Sustainability & digitalization: The key business imperatives

Sustainability & digitalization: The key business imperatives

The two mega trends of climate change and digitalization - collectively termed the ‘Third Wave’ - will have a profound impact on the textile value chain. Navdeep Singh Sodhi in this article offers a policy perspective to foster new business models.

COP 26 the UN Climate Change Conference will take place in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12, 2021. This forum brings together parties under a common framework to aim to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Under the auspices of the UN Climate Change, fashion industry stakeholders created a framework of action in 2018 called the “Fashion industry Charter for Climate Action”. This provides a vision to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

The central idea of this article is to draw industry attention to the two mega trends of climate change and digitalization – collectively termed the ‘Third Wave’. Whilst the preceding ‘Second Wave’ which was induced by geopolitical and economic dynamics liberated through globalization, its successor will be influenced by greater external forces of environment and technology. The ‘Third Wave’ will have a profound impact on the textile value chain and therefore the need for industry to prepare itself with a commensurate policy response. The theme of this article is to offer a policy perspective to foster new business models.

Textile industry and climate change
The Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action was launched at COP 24 in Katowice Poland in 2018. It is a recognition of the importance attached by the T&C industry to contribute to the global efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change and to set an example for other sectors. Work under Fashion Charter for Climate Action is guided by its mission to drive the fashion industry to net-zero Greenhouse Gas emissions no later than 2050 in line with keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees. The Charter was signed by 125 companies and 41 support organizations. These include top fashion brands and retailers such as Inditex, Fast Retailing, Gap, PVH, Adidas, Hugo Boss, Levi Strauss and Decathlon, fibre producers Lenzing and Sateri and textile and apparel manufacturers such as Crystal Group, TAL, A&E, Artistic Milliners and DBL. The top organizations that are signatories to the Charter include ITMF, IFC, CNTAC, BGMEA, BCI, Fashion for Good, GOTS and Textile Exchange and A.P. MØller-Maersk.

Circular textile economy
Reuse is a key aspect of sustainability. The linear business model using virgin materials and generating waste is unsustainable in the long run. According to the latest findings of the Textile Exchange, out of the 111 million mt of fibres produced in 2019, less than 20% were deemed to be sustainable. The Textile Exchange estimates about 48 million tons of clothes being disposed annually. Furthermore, textile- to- textile recycling rate at below 1% presents a major challenge as well as an opportunity.

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