Fashion Waste – 2024 Facts & Statistics

image of someone looking through a clothing rack

The fashion industry is a major contributor to global waste and pollution, impacting our environment significantly.

Here are some important facts about fashion waste.

Table of contents

What is Fashion Waste?

Fashion waste encompasses all discarded clothing, textiles, and accessories from the production and consumption of fashion products.

This includes textile waste from manufacturing processes and clothing waste from consumers.

What Causes Fashion Waste?

Fashion waste is primarily driven by:

  • Fast fashion: The rapid production of cheap, trendy clothing that encourages frequent purchases and disposals.

  • Consumer behaviour: The tendency to buy more and discard items after a short period of time.

  • Inefficient manufacturing: Excess materials and defective products that are discarded.

Where Does Fashion Waste Go?

A significant portion of fashion waste ends up in landfills or is incinerated. Only a small fraction is recycled.

Image of cutoffs/scraps of clothing

Global Fashion Waste Statistics

Globally, the fashion industry produces around 92 million tonnes of textile waste annually.

This contributes significantly to environmental pollution, with the industry responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions.

  • We consume 62 million tonnes of textiles per year. By 2030, this is expected to reach 102 million tonnes

  • The fashion industry accounts for 8.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions​

  • The average American throws away approximately 81 pounds of clothing annually, contributing to a total of 26 billion pounds of textile waste in the U.S. alone each year​ (Sustainable Ninja)​​

  • Globally, 87% of the total fibre input used for clothing is either landfilled or incinerated, with less than 1% being recycled into new garments​

  • The fashion industry is responsible for 20% of global water waste

  • It takes about 2,700 litres of water to produce one cotton shirt, which is equivalent to 2.5 years of drinking water for one person​

  • The textile industry uses an estimated 79 billion cubic meters of water per year​

  • Approximately 35% of all primary microplastic pollution in the ocean comes from the fashion industry, particularly from synthetic fibres such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic​

  • Textile dyeing is the second-largest polluter of water globally, contributing significantly to water pollution

UK Fashion Waste Statistics

In the UK, approximately 350,000 tonnes of clothing waste are sent to landfills each year.

This not only wastes valuable resources but also adds to the environmental impact through landfill pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Each British person throws away 3.1kg of textiles each year on average, with 1.7kg ending up in landfill.

  • The UK is the fourth largest producer of textile waste in Europe, generating approximately 206,456 tonnes of textile waste annually.

  • The UK fashion and textile industry is substantial, contributing £62 billion to the UK economy. It supports 1.3 million jobs and generates over £23 billion in tax revenues. This industry represents 3.1% of the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP)​ (UKFT)​.

  • British consumers are heavy spenders on new clothing, with an average expenditure of £980.50 per person annually.

Fast Fashion

Fast fashion drives the high turnover of clothing, leading to massive amounts of textile waste.

This business model focuses on quick production cycles and low-cost items that are often worn only a few times before being discarded.

image of a clothing store

Textile Manufacturing

The manufacturing process generates significant waste issues:

  • Off-cuts and scraps: Excess fabric from cutting patterns.

  • Defective items: Products that do not meet quality standards.

  • Chemical pollution: Dyes and chemicals used in textiles often pollute water sources.

Consumer Behaviour

Consumers play a crucial role in the fashion waste problem.

The average lifespan of a clothing item has decreased, with many items worn fewer than 10 times before being discarded.

Increased consumption and disposal contribute heavily to clothing waste and other issues surrounding it.

Impact of Fashion Waste

The environmental impact of fashion waste includes:

  • Landfill pollution: Clothing waste takes up landfill space and releases harmful chemicals as it decomposes, which can contaminate soil and have knock-on effects to other environmental issues.

  • Water pollution: Toxic chemicals from dyes and textile treatments contaminate water sources when they are dumped into them or are disposed of improperly.

  • Carbon emissions: The entire lifecycle of fashion items, from production to disposal, contributes to the industry’s carbon footprint.
image of scraps/cutoffs of clothing and materials

How to Tackle Fashion Waste

Addressing fashion waste requires efforts from everyone:

  • Sustainable practices: Manufacturers should choose eco-friendly materials and processes, to reduce their fashion waste.

  • Consumer education: Encouraging consumers to purchase quality clothing that will not be discarded after only being used very few times.

  • Recycling programs: Expanding textile recycling and upcycling initiatives.

  • Effective waste management: Companies like Everything Managed can ensure responsible handling of textile waste, promoting recycling and reducing landfill dependence.


Fashion waste presents a significant environmental problem, but by understanding the facts and taking proactive steps, we can reduce its impact.

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