According to data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), textile waste has increased by 811 percent between 1960 and 2015. The majority of this waste is made up of municipal solid waste (MSW). MSW encompasses discarded clothing, as well as small furniture, carpets, tires, and footwear.
The EPA calculated that in 2015, clothing and footwear produced 11.9 million tons of waste and 4.5 percent of total MSW. Decades of data gathering evidence a dramatic increase in textile waste, which grew from 1.76 million tons in 1960 to more than 16 million tons in 2015.
Jackie King, executive director of Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART), told Supply Chain Dive that the problem has worsened significantly in the last decade. She explained that “a lot of the ‘fast fashion’ clothing is not very well made and might not last through more than a few washes before ending up in the landfill.”