top of page
< Back


The decline in clothing prices over the past 20 years has allowed us to buy more and more clothes. Today we have five times as many clothes as our grandparents did.
This continuous accumulation of cheap clothes is only possible because of the constant reduction ei production costs. This, in turn, has serious consequences for our health, our planet and the lives of garment workers.
80 billion garments are produced each year
52 micro-collections per year are launched by fast-fashion brands instead of the usual 2 seasons
400% more clothing is produced today than 20 years ago
On average, 7 times a garment is worn before being thrown away
An average of 35 kg of textile waste is produced per person per year in the U.S.
Only 20%-30% of the clothes in most women's wardrobes are worn
20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile processing and dyes
200,000 tons of dyes are leached into effluents each year
22,000 liters of toxic waste are dumped into rivers every day from tanneries in Bangladesh
1.5 trillion liters of water are used annually by the fashion industry 2.6 percent of global fresh water is used to produce cotton
750 million people in the world do not have access to clean water
190,000 tons of plastic textile microfibers end up in the ocean each year Older clothing releases twice as many particles as new clothing 52% of our clothes contain polyester
5.2% of the waste in our landfills is textiles 3 years is the average lifespan of a garment today
23% of all chemicals produced in the world are used in the textile industry. 20,000 people die each year from cancer and miscarriages due to chemicals sprayed on cotton
Cotton production uses 24% of insecticides and 11% of pesticides produced globally
10% of global carbon emissions come from the apparel industry
70 million barrels of oil are used each year to produce polyester
400% more carbon emissions are produced if you wear a garment 5 times instead of 50 times
90% of Mongolia's land area is at risk of desertification, mainly due to cashmere goat farming.
Land degradation will lead to a 30% decrease in food production in the next 20-50 years if nothing changes
30% of Patagonia is affected by desertification due to sheep grazing
70 million trees are cut down each year to produce our clothes EU DATA
It is estimated that the global textile and clothing industry used 79 billion cubic meters of water in 2015, while the needs of the entire EU economy amounted to 266 billion cubic meters in 2017

Since 1996, the amount of clothing purchased in the EU per person has increased by 40 percent as a result of a sharp drop in prices, which has reduced the lifespan of clothing. Europeans use nearly 26 kilograms of textiles and discard about 11 kilograms each year. Used clothing may be exported outside the EU, but it is mostly (87%) incinerated or landfilled.
Globally, less than 1 percent of clothing is recycled, partly due to inadequate technology.
In February 2021, Parliament adopted a resolution on the new Circular Economy Action Plan calling for additional measures to achieve a zero-carbon, environmentally sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy by 2050, including stricter recycling rules and binding targets for material use and consumption by 2030.
As part of the Circular Economy Action Plan, the European Commission unveiled in March 2022 a new strategy to make textiles more durable, repairable, reusable and recyclable, tackle fast fashion and stimulate innovation in the sector.
Under the waste directive approved by Parliament in 2018, EU countries are obliged to collect textiles separately by 2025.
"Europe is in an unprecedented economic and health crisis, which reveals the fragility of our global supply chains," said MEP Huitema. "Stimulating new innovative business models will in turn create new economic growth and the job opportunities Europe will need to recover."
Soex is a German company specializing in "sorting."
They follow an international waste hierarchy, which favors reuse over recycling, manually inspecting each and every piece of clothing and shoe to give it a second life.
Experts working in the Wolfen facility inspect used textiles in multiple manual steps, according to up to 400 different criteria.
Each garment and pair of shoes is sorted by hand and sorted according to its next use.
In Germany and abroad, they sort the collected products following the five-step waste hierarchy: prevention, reuse and preparation for reuse, recycling, recovery, disposal.
Soex also uses an automated system that aims to solve the fiber-to-fiber recycling problem.
An artificial intelligence recognizes individual garments and can sort them by material or color. Using this technology, the selected garments can be recycled and made into yarn.
78 materials and combinations of materials can already be detected by artificial intelligence. The measurement accuracy is more than 95%.

bottom of page