It is not an overstatement to say that waste lies at the heart of the fashion industry. The dominant model of fast fashion sees clothing as a disposable item, inevitably generating 92 million tons of textile waste each year, of which 87% ends up in a landfill.

We must focus on a complete change of model. More and more studies show that decarbonization practices to slow climate change will only solve half of the problem.

According to the “Completing the Picture” study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “decarbonization efforts (…) could address a maximum of 55% of total emissions; while the remaining 45% corresponds to the circular economy.”

To achieve real change, we urgently need to move towards circularity in the textile sector. The big question is how?

Accelerating the circular transformation of textiles

Despite the well-known criticisms that the textile sector has accumulated for more than a decade due to its high environmental and social cost, the production model has not undergone major changes. Even taking into account the general effort to incorporate more sustainable practices, the reality is that in 2023 the textile industry will still be one of the sectors with the greatest impact on the environment.

And a linear production industry still predominates, promoting overconsumption and quickly disposable garments. Perhaps because imagining a prosperous future in which clothing maintains its value throughout its life cycle and is reintegrated into the economy after use requires a deep exercise of adaptation to the new paradigm.


As the British physicist and mathematician William Thomson Kelvin said, “What is not defined cannot be measured. What is not measured, cannot be improved. What is not improved, deteriorates.”

Just as the Carbon Footprint is a homogeneous and transversal measure within the framework of greenhouse gas emissions, at T_Neutral we propose the use of the term “Textile Footprint” to measure and trace the tons of textile, useful or discarded, outputted throughout the supply chain of a textile producer.

Establishing a unifying unit of measurement is key to star moving towards circularity as it allows to establish a universal framework of action.

This way, we can start comparing resource and waste management initiatives, establishing the most effective practices to reduce said “Textile Footprint” and setting mitigation and circularity goals both individually and at the industry level.


The next step in our path towards circularity is to establish textile footprint optimization practices that are appropriate for each textile output source, in a constant process of evaluation and improvement.

This phase currently has many opportunities and contrasted strategies, as well as practices in full development. Among many other examples, we can highlight digital prototyping and sampling, the use of fabrics and techniques that guarantee durability, disassemblability and recyclability, optimization of post-industrial waste, or garment repair services.


Measuring and optimizing are circular practices designed to remain indefinitely, constantly evolving towards increasingly efficient circularity. However, unfortunately, they are not enough to solve the problem today.

We need a mechanism that allows to properly manage the textile output which its end of life we lose control over, as well as all that already accumulated in open lanfills over decades of linear production. In that sense, contribution is a truly effective tool for tackling the problem.

Whether through mandatory textile EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) schemes or through a decentralized mechanism such as the textile credits proposed by T_NEUTRAL, contributions allow for the cleanup and handling of those textile outputs, and acts as a catalyst for textile waste recovery projects in the Global South by directly linking responsible producers with projects at the frontlines of waste. This mechanism contributes to the sustainable development of areas where discarded textiles are most problematic, which combined with measuring, tracing and optimization practices, could gradually bring us closer to the vision of a horizon free of textile waste.

If you want to delve deeper or need more information on the measurement methodology and the reduction and contribution phases, you can find it in this document, by contacting our team, or subscribing to our newsletter.