Photo credit: Plastics for Change
Textile Exchange and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action are launching a joint initiative to further spur a shift in the market towards the uptake of recycled polyester (rPET) and the associated reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs).
The 2025 Recycled Polyester Challenge serves as an important catalyst for change in the apparel and textile industry. We are challenging the apparel industry to commit to bringing the percentage of recycled polyester up from 14% to 45% at 17.1 million metric tons by 2025. The Challenge will continue the successful acceleration that began with Textile Exchange’s 2017 Recycled Polyester Commitment.
We encourage brands to commit to the most ambitious uptake target possible. 80-100% recycled polyester commitments from the brands in our community will be essential to reaching our 2025 45% recycled volume target and for building critical mass to reach an absolute 90% recycled volume share by 2030.
Polyester (PET) is the most widely used fiber in the apparel industry, accounting for around 52% of the total volume of fibers produced globally. The apparel industry accounts for around 32 million tons of the 57 million tons of polyester used each year. Currently, only approximately 14% of this comes from recycled inputs – predominantly from post-consumer PET bottles (Textile Exchange Preferred Fiber & Materials Market Report 2020).
Recycled polyester has a significantly lower carbon footprint than conventional. Each kg of mechanically recycled polyester represents a reduction in GHG emissions by more than 70% as compared to virgin polyester (Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Material Sustainability Index – raw materials “Higg MSI”). To stay within the 1.5-degree pathway as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we need to bring the share of mechanically recycled (or equivalent) fiber/filament within the polyester market from 14% to 90% by 2030. By 2025 rPET needs to comprise at least 45% of fashion’s polyester market – this is equivalent to roughly 17.1 million metric tons (assuming a 3% growth rate of the apparel industry). The 17.1 million metric tons of recycled are intended to replace virgin synthetic feedstocks rather than cannibalize other fiber categories or justify increased industry growth.
Today, mechanically recycled polyester from plastic water bottles makes up the vast majority of recycled polyester; however, chemical recycling and, more specifically, textile to textile recycling will be a necessary part of reaching our goal. We recognize that more data is needed on the GHG reductions associated with chemical recycling and that even with less significant reductions compared to mechanical recycling, it is a key part of the solution. We will continue to explore roadmap scenarios as impact data evolves and as the textile-to-textile recycling market matures.
Textile Exchange will annually report results utilizing 2019 volume data as a baseline and a view to accomplishing both Textile Exchange’s and Fashion Charter’s overall commitment to staying within the 1.5-degree pathway.
Companies committing to this initiative will be required to annually report their polyester consumption to Textile Exchange’s Corporate Fiber and Materials Benchmark (CFMB) survey, which will track progress across all participating brands towards the collective goal. All information that is input into Textile Exchange’s Corporate Fiber & Materials Benchmark survey is entirely anonymous and aggregated across all annual report participants to show progress. Company information will never be singled out and published without a company’s explicit request or consent. Brands are required to report once per year by the CFMB deadline, but they have the option to participate in the full benchmark or solely to report polyester volumes using our fiber tracker.
Companies do not need to be a member of Textile Exchange or the Recycled Polyester Round Table to join the Challenge. We encourage the industry to participate in catalyzing change with this joint commitment.
Brands Committed by Date (April 27, 2021):
Adidas, Athleta, Aware™ (by The Movement), Banana Republic, Focus Têxtil, G-Star Raw, H&M Group, Helly Hansen, House of Baukjen, Inditex Group, ITOCHU Corporation Textile Material section, JCrew, Lululemon, Madewell, Mantis World, Mara Hoffman, Moose Knuckles, Nudie Jeans, Outerknown Pact, prAna, Reformation, Sympatex Technologies, Varner, VF Corporation, White + Warren