Sustainability and Circularity in the Textile Value Chain - Global Stocktaking

Type of document: Scientific, technical, research

The intention of this UNEP report is to apply an evidence-based value chain approach, mapping the textile value chain with its stakeholders, as well as environmental and socio-economic impacts along different value chain stages. Based on this analysis, the report identifies associated hotspots in all sustainability dimensions. Giving examples of the many initiatives that are already being undertaken, the report outlines gaps, barriers and opportunities to work towards a more sustainable and circular textile value chain, highlighting priority actions.

Top insights:

• Increasing consumption, manufacture and use of textile products affect the global climate, the quality of ecosystems and human health, through their high use of energy, chemicals, land, and water
• High social risks despite the much-needed employment and essential human services it provides
• High use of energy and/or natural resources: extensive use of chemicals in cotton cultivation & wet textile processing particularly impacts on human health & ecosystems
• Priority actions are 1) the need for stronger governance to drive the change; 2) the need for collaboration and financing to implement solutions; and 3) the need to change consumption habits

Circularity goes beyond incremental improvements, e.g. increasing resource efficiency, increasing recycling rates and decreasing hazardous chemical use, and requires a system-wide approach, transforming the way textiles are designed, produced, consumed, and disposed of. Achieving systemic changes will require coordinated actions by all stakeholders and across regions.

Further information

UNEP aims to provide leadership and convene partners to develop knowledge and solutions to advance towards a sustainable and circular textile value chain, while supporting the sound management of chemicals. This will contribute to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production. The report sets the basis for a second report that UNEP is now developing, again based on multi-stakeholder consultations, in order to provide a roadmap for action, outlining the key actions that need to be taken, and by which stakeholder groups, to make the textile value chain more circular and sustainable. Further, UNEP, in partnership with the International Resource Panel, is initiating an economic modelling exercise over the next three years, which assesses sustainable economic models’ potentials to support the transition to SCP in the textile value chain. An overview and more information on UNEP’s textile works are available here: • https://www.oneplanetnetwork.org/unep-textile-value-chain • https://buildingcircularity.org/textiles/ The report was also featured in an article in Eco-Age magazine.