The adverse impacts of environmental pollution caused by carbon emissions are becoming more important every passing day. The entry into force of the European Green Deal in 2019 and the fact that taxation of carbon emissions of all sectors, especially carbon-intensive ones, is on the agenda has led to an increase in the studies addressing this concern. It is apparent that unless the damage given by humans to the environment is reduced, climatic deterioration will continue to increase due to global warming, however, with the increase in production activities all over the world, the pollution load on the ecosystem keeps increasing.
It is apparent that unless the damage given by humans to the environment is reduced, climatic deterioration will continue to increase due to global warming.
Businesses need to limit their carbon footprint
Known as a concept related to the amount of carbon released into the air as a result of fuel consumption, carbon footprint is one of the main concepts affecting the global climate crisis and is at a very high level in the textile and ready-to-wear sectors, which are trying to meet the continuously increasing global demand in recent years. With this awareness, businesses in these sectors need to reduce the damage they give to the environment and limit their carbon footprints by taking various measures in their production processes, and the most effective way to reduce the carbon footprint is to reduce the amount of energy required for production or the dependence on fossil fuels that emit carbon into the atmosphere.
The most effective way to reduce the carbon footprint is to reduce the amount of energy required for production
The biggest consumers of water and fuel include textile and apparel sectors
While the overall manufacturing industry is responsible for most of the carbon released into the atmosphere, the textile and apparel industry is among the biggest consumers of water and fuel. Featuring many process stages ranging from the harvesting of the raw material to the production of yarn, and from the knitting and dyeing of the fabric to the final product phase, each of which causes different amounts of carbon footprint, the textile manufacturing industry has many effects on the environment and since quite some time, such issues have started to be included in the agendas of textile shows and exhibitions held worldwide.
Fashion’s role in the global climate crisis
Research shows that the fashion industry is responsible for 20 percent of water pollution and 35 percent of microplastic pollution in the oceans. With the awareness that 10 percent of global carbon emissions is estimated to be caused by the fashion industry, global fashion brands have started to focus more on sustainability, and fashion events like fashion shows, exhibitions and fashion weeks organized across the world are now organized in a way that they cover the ecological aspect of the fashion industry and that they offer opportunities for textile manufacturers, apparel manufacturers, textile sourcing providers, apparel and textile vendors and retailers to have a broader sense of environmental issues. Such environmentally sensitive fashion events include the Istanbul Fashion Connection (IFCO), Europe’s largest ready wear and fashion fair, which will be held on 9 – 11 August 2023. Organized by İTKİB fairs, a subsidiary of Istanbul Apparel Exporters’ Association (İHKİB), the fourth outing of the event will feature trend areas, seminars, workshops and fashion shows that will bring together design, interaction and experience especially in the topics of digital transformation, smart clothing, technical textiles and sustainability.
The fashion industry is responsible for 20 percent of water pollution and 35 percent of microplastic pollution in the oceans
What should be done to reduce carbon footprint?
Industries need to develop innovative technologies and sustainable solutions to reduce their carbon footprint. For example, natural fibers used in the fashion industry have many additional benefits besides having a smaller carbon footprint. Nearly 2,000 chemicals, many of which are harmful, are used during the processing of textile products. While some of these chemicals evaporate, some dissolve in the treatment water discharged to the environment. Thus, finding the right textile and apparel sourcing providers to work with has become a much more significant issue than in the past.
Besides, state-of-the-art machines should be used in order to reduce water consumption during pre-treatment, dyeing and post-dyeing washing. The use of solar panels, biomass and wind energy is also important to reduce the consumption of non-renewable energy sources. In addition, the reuse of wastewater provides advantages to textile manufacturers. Performing such processes as bleaching, softening and dyeing in one go reduces the number of processes and leads to less water and energy consumption.
Increasing energy efficiency, promoting the use of biofuels in transportation, reducing CO2 emissions from vehicles, recovering greenhouse gases such as methane from landfills and chimneys are also among the frequently used methods for the reduction of carbon footprint. Meanwhile, more and more textile manufacturers are developing products and processes to reduce their carbon footprint during the manufacture of colorants and the processing of textiles.
Due to the high energy consumption of the textile industry, alternatives such as reuse and recycling of products have been among the areas of focus in recent years. It is known that a woven clothing item made from unused wool will create twice as many carbon footprints as those made from recycled wool. It is known that a pair of jeans emits 6.8 kilograms of CO2, which is equivalent to the emissions released when driving a distance of 56 kilometers in an average B-class vehicle or watching 50 hours of television on a big screen.
In July 2021, Türkiye launched a Sustainability Action Plan for its textile industry in a bid to increase global market share by reducing environmental impact
Turkish Textile Industry Sustainability Action Plan well on track
With its significant share in production, exports, employment and investments, the Turkish textile and apparel industry is the locomotive of the country's economy, and two years ago, in July 2021, Türkiye launched a Sustainability Action Plan for its textile industry in a bid to increase global market share by reducing environmental impact. Seeking to align the country's textile industry with the European Green Deal, the initiative announced by Istanbul Textile and Raw Materials Exporters Association (İTHİB) under the leadership of Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM) includes concrete steps towards sustainability in several areas, including wastewater recovery, energy efficiency and recycling, that are key for green production.
Türkiye is one of the rare countries where all processes in the ready-to-wear supply chain, from fiber to the final product, are completed within a single country. Other main competitive advantages of Türkiye are seen as its design power, quality, proximity to target markets, and strong supplier infrastructure, which need to be reinforced with sustainability, according to sector representatives. The renewable energy investments made in recent years as well as the incentives provided by the relevant ministries for textile manufacturing signal that the action plan has already borne its fruits.