Monday, October 16, 2017

“Pivot or Die?” First, Let’s Define Die…


An October 11 article in Sourcing Journal Online entitled, “Pivot or Die: The Megatrends That Will Capsize Your Supply Chain if You’re Not Paying Attention” begins with the following—warning?:

If last year meant change for the apparel industry, this year it’s time for a pivot. And in particular, a pivot toward more sustainable business practices.
Without it, extinction will be a sure bet.”

Wow. Extinction. Die. Let’s get our arms around this. Define “die.” Is this the whole apparel industry? Is it the people who are affected by current levels of pollution and non-sustainability? Or is it both?

Clearly the article and an associated piece dated October 4 in the same journal entitled, “Report: The Industry Has the Circularity Concept All Wrong—And What Companies Can Do to Get It Right” are saying that a. there are too many garments being produced in the world and b. the only way to save the world from choking on too many discarded garments is to massively recycle them.

Sounds like a plan? Let’s get practical. With 7 billion people in the world and most of them wearing garments of some sort, what kind of effort and organization will it take to impact even a significant portion of them? The article mentions some efforts that are being made, but think about it. From pretty much zero now, a whole infrastructure would have to be built, such as what we have in most countries and areas for paper, glass and plastic. Garment recycling bins outside of each building and house, and an infrastructure to collect and process. OMG.

And, what about the effort, as I wrote about in my last article, “Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink”, http://www.isourcerer.com/2017/10/china-water-water-everywhere-and-not.html that countries like China are beginning to make to address pollution at its production source? Isn’t this where the effort should start instead of asking people to buy less clothes and trying to organize a way for them to recycle what they don’t want anymore?

This, to me, is where the apparel/textile industry needs to make a major effort now because a. this pollution is killing people and b. it can be accomplished with consistent effort on the part of  governments, producers and buyers but NOT without disruption of the supply chain in the short term.

Regarding clothes recycling and reducing consumption--how to do that? Ask retailers to put a quota on how much is purchased by each person? That ,when the very foundation of traditional retail is challenged by lower sales and profits? When buying clothes online is easier than ever?—it would take a herculean effort even to get a basic agreement from (major rather than small) manufacturers and retailers about producing less (?) and how the structure of clothing recycling will go down. Not to mention getting consumers into it. Even with the current efforts to recycle polyester and other fibers, there is a very long way to go until recycling has any significant effect, much less global effect.

So the big emphasis, push and pressure today must be at the production level, of fibers, yarns, fabrics and finished goods to meet production standards that drastically reduce or eliminate the local and global harm to environments and people-air, water, land, etc.

That can be done in our lifetime with everybody on the same page.

WAKE UP CALL-Governments, massive producers like Walmart, Amazon, Zara, PVH, Macy’s etc. get on this now. Simplify your social compliance regimens and add requrements about environmental impact.

But not today. Or tomorrow. At this point the apparel industry, considering the number of producers globally, is at ground zero in this effort. It will take time.

Then, once we produce clothing without or with minimum environmental harm in the first place, we can think about recycling on a global scale. Otherwise, the recycling effort may be coals to Newcastle..




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