THE PLASTIC ELEPHANT: Overproduction and synthetic fibres in sustainable textile strategies

Authors: Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Lisbeth Løvbak Berg, Anna Schytte Sigaard, Tone Skårdal Tobiasson and
Lea Gleisberg


In this report, we examine national, international and corporate strategies for sustainable textiles to understand if and how they embrace the increased production volumes based on synthetic materials, which can be referred to as the ‘plastic elephant in the room’. This is done through a lens of four questions. First, we look at whether the strategies discuss growth in production volumes and possible measures to stop this growth. Second, we examine whether they address the plastification of textiles. By plastification, we mean the increasing share of plastic fibres used for textile production. Third, whether they discuss the raw material for plastics, and fourth, plastic waste. The results show that none of these questions that can reduce the environmental impacts of clothing production are given a central role in the strategies.

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