London Fashion Week sparks recycling debate

The start of London Fashion Week – which launches today (15 February) – has led to renewed calls for retailers and manufacturers to work with the textile recycling industry to address waste from ‘fast fashion’.

London Fashion Week is the internationally-renowned clothing trade show which sees around 250 designers showcase work largely to retailers.

London Fashion Week is a five-day clothing trade show that takes place in London twice a year

In recent months, the clothing sector has come in for criticism over the environmental impact of its products, particularly around the sale of inexpensive clothing produced in response to the latest trends. This has prompted a parliamentary inquiry looking at the sustainability of the fashion industry.

The Global Recycling Foundation, which was set up as an independent organisation by the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), has called for the start of London Fashion Week to ‘shine a spotlight’ on the issue of clothing waste.


The Foundation is urging London Fashion Week to continue to encourage recycling in fashion and to support initiatives that promote the companies already championing sustainability.

Founding president of the Global Recycling Foundation, Ranjit Baxi said: “While it’s exciting to see the innovations in sustainable fashion, and we commend the forward-thinking brands who are doing such an incredible job, we still have a long way to go to make the fashion industry more environmentally friendly.”

The Global Recycling Foundation has also highlighted some of the projects being brought forward by clothing retailers aimed at tackling waste and promoting sustainability.

This includes Adidas, which last year announced a commitment to use recycled polyester in all shoes and clothing by 2024, as well as Patagonia, which uses used soft drink bottles, and manufacturing waste and worn-out garments for polyester fibres to produce “eco-friendly” clothing.

Ranjit Baxi called on London Fashion Week to act as a ‘spotlight’ on the issue of clothing waste

Alan Wheeler, director at the British Textile Recycling Association, added that it is important people are aware of the environmental impact of throwing away old clothing.

He said: “Every year the UK throws away around 350,000 tonnes of used clothing. As the UK’s trade association for collectors and processors of used clothing and textile, we are a major force in championing the environmental, economic and social benefits of textile recycling. We want everyone to understand the impact of fast fashion and how we can reduce waste.”


Further information on the challenge posed by textile waste has been detailed by London-based recycling company First Mile, which this week released the results of its poll highlighting what it describes as “the nation’s throwaway clothing culture”.

The company surveyed 2,000 UK adults and found that 16% of people said that they dispose of their unwanted clothing by throwing it in the bin, and over 40% of adults say that they buy new clothes at least once a month.

The survey also showed that 22% of respondents said they are put off fixing their clothes because it’s easier to buy a replacement, and one in five (17%) saying it’s cheap enough just to buy a replacement.

Bruce Bratley, chief executive and founder of First Mile, commented:  “We buy more clothes per person in the UK than any other country in Europe but our survey results send a clear message that more needs to be done to encourage people to show their purchases some love and prolong their life.”

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