Avery Dennison has called on the clothing industry to maximise digital technology to tackle waste and improve circularity.

The company, a specialist in materials science and digital identification solutions, sets out seven practical steps that companies need to take, describing digitisation as “a matter of urgency” to tackle the industry’s impact on the environment.

Its report, called Threads of Change, includes recommendations such as championing the use of textile fibres that can be easily broken down as well as new methods that make it easier to recycle textile waste.

It urges garment businesses to explore innovations such as AI and smart sensors on equipment that help improve efficiencies and cut water and energy waste.

It also recommends using apparel that is designed for ease of repair and disassembly such as creating garments with detachable and interchanging components.

Embedding digital IDs such as like RFID, NFC and QR codes in clothing design means that the wearers can access information on reuse and recycling. The report also calls for fashion courses to teach students how to improve circularity in their designs.

It also highlights how recycling of garments is made easier if they do not contain “disruptive” materials such as cotton-polyester blends and wool-acrylic blends.

The report notes that, out of the 32 billion garments produced globally each year, 64% will be incinerated or sent to landfill. The clothing industry is responsible for 20% of global industrial wastewater through processing and textile dyeing, and it contributes to around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions due to long supply chains and energy-intensive production.

Click here for the full report.