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Recycling-savvy fashion designers praised

Designers using recycled textiles at one of the world’s most prestigious fashions shows have been praised by the Global Recycling Foundation.

Ahead of Global Recycling Day on 18 March, the foundation says designers are embracing calls for more brands to re-think their impact on the environment and has cited examples from Fashion Week. It references research from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that the fashion industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions – more than the aviation and maritime industries combined.

One clothing brand at this year’s digital London Fashion week is Bethany Williams. Each garment is made in the UK from recycled and organic materials, working with social projects and local manufacturers.

Williams says: ‘Researching and exploring waste streams within the UK, finding how we can innovatively recycle different materials is something that fills us with so much joy. Designing has always felt like a form of problem solving, something that enables us to find a solution to how we can reuse a product, material or garment that has lived through its original purpose, and then be reworked to give it a second life.’

N Palmer, a brand launched in summer 2020, repurposes vintage fabrics through innovative textile techniques and contemporary design. Owner Nicholas Palmer says: ‘I couldn’t in good conscience not implement recycling or up-cycling solutions into my brand. It’s too self-indulgent to create things now without considering the entire lifecycle of a piece.’

Mariska Zandvliet, president of the textile branch of the European Recycling Industries Confederation comments: ‘From the point of view of our industry but also in line with the waste hierarchy, reuse is essential and should always come before recycling. Currently less than 1% of the post-consumer textile is recycled into fibres and used in new clothing.’

Zandvliet points out that designs using multiple layers and mixed materials make it difficult to separate the fibres for recycling. Most recycling remains mechanical which shortens the length of the fibres making them unfit to be reused without adding virgin material.

‘Through innovative recycling techniques, co-operation, eco-design and creating a demand for recycled fibres new business models will arise allowing the textile chain to become circular,’ she adds.

Ranjit Baxi, founding president of the Global Recycling Foundation, says: ‘Every year on Global Recycling Day we applaud the innovative recycling practices of our heroes and report what they have achieved to our millions of supporters around the world.’

He hopes designers will be nominated for its #RecyclingHeroes competition to mark Global Recycling Day. Nominations for the award should be sent to [email protected] – by 8 March.

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