NEW TAIPEI (TVBS News) — The textile industry is undergoing a significant transformation in the heart of Taiwan's burgeoning sustainability movement.
With environmental awareness on the rise, the challenge of balancing ecological responsibility with economic viability is more pressing than ever.
Sustainable Textile Initiatives
At a local recycling yard, a new trend in sustainable fashion is taking shape. Claire Wang, a TVBS reporter, highlights the scale of this endeavor.
"At this recycling yard, they process 400 to 500 tons of used clothes a month. Forty percent of it is for domestic use and exports. Companies buy thirty percent to make fuel rods. Of the remaining 30%, companies buy five percent to make textile fibers, and these attempts are on the rise,” she said.
This shift towards reusing and repurposing textiles is part of a broader effort to reduce waste and promote a circular economy.
However, the road to sustainability is not without its challenges. The meticulous process of sorting and recycling used clothes demands significant manual labor.
Chan Tsung-yu, an Assistant Professor at the Department of Textiles and Clothing, Fu Jen Catholic University, explains, "If the labeling of the recycled clothes isn't clear, it's actually difficult to recognize which material is used when manually sorting them. Therefore, the cost of labor will be reflected in the price of our recycled fabrics."
The Rise of PET Recycling
In response to the increasing cost of recycled textiles, manufacturers are exploring alternative materials. Plastic bottles, known for their ubiquity and recyclability, have become a primary source of recycled polyester.
This shift, however, struggles to meet the high demand, presenting a unique set of challenges for the industry.
Li Jo-hwa, head of the sustainability and certification section at the Taiwan Textile Research Institute, reflects on this trend: "In the beginning of the campaign, people were saying PET bottles could be recycled into textiles.”
Amid these developments, greenwashing has become a concerning issue. Some companies, in their efforts to appear environmentally responsible, have overstated their sustainable practices.
This deceptive marketing undermines genuine efforts to create a more sustainable textile industry. As a result, the call for honest, transparent, and effective sustainability measures is louder than ever.
In its journey towards greater sustainability, Taiwan's textile industry exemplifies the complex interplay between environmental ideals and the practicalities of economic and industrial realities.