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Dealing with Fashion Industry’s Waste, the China’s Way

The apparel industry has become one of the world's largest polluters due to the rise of fast fashion—the mass production of inexpensive and disposable clothing that employs a multitude of highly polluting plastics. The industry is responsible for 4–10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with China as one of the most significant contributors. With the country pledging to become carbon neutral by 2060, sustainable fashion that emphasizes the importance of environmental and social sustainability can be one way to help China achieve this goal.


Sustainable fashion is beginning to take over as people worldwide become more aware of how their consumption habits affect the environment. However, the trend has yet to catch on in China fully; many still believe that used clothing is unhygienic, causing them to value brand-new products more than recycled and vintage ones. Consequently, the sustainable fashion industry represents a small portion of China's fashion and apparel industry. Nonetheless, several indicators point to a growing market opportunity—77% of Chinese consumers are willing to pay a premium of 5–20% for sustainable fashion over regular fashion. Moreover, an increasing number of Chinese, particularly the younger generation, are now paying closer attention to sustainable fashion.


The biggest Asian nation is a massive market for fashion and apparel, accounting for more than half of global textile and apparel production. Though this represents an excellent opportunity for sustainable brands to invest in the market, most individuals still need to be made aware of the importance of sustainable fashion. This is evidenced by the fact that China creates 26 million tons of clothing waste, of which about 1% is recycled. Therefore, sustainable fashion success in China further depends on the consumer's potential. Fashion labels may incorporate environmentally and socially conscious practices into their core strategies and operations. With generation Z's morals and values influencing their purchasing decisions, businesses can launch sustainable product collections that contribute to sustainability and campaigns to promote sustainable fashion.

As the world’s largest apparel exporter, China plays a crucial role in the fashion industry’s sustainability efforts. Although consumers may have a choice in what they are attracted to and can access, brands are in charge of creating and promoting high-quality, environmentally friendly products.

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