Emissions from clothing sold in Japan total over 95 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, with most of that total resulting from the manufacturing process overseas, a government estimate has shown.
The process of manufacturing and transporting clothes is estimated to produce 90.09 million tons of carbon dioxide, or 94.6% of the total, according to the Environment Ministry. Of the 819,000 tons of garments supplied to the Japanese market in 2020, 799,000 tons, or about 98%, was imported from overseas.
The remaining total of about 5 million tons is attributed mostly to the burning of unsold clothes and energy used for laundry. The first such estimate by the government finds that each item of clothing contributes around 25 kilograms of carbon dioxide, the ministry said.
The apparel industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions, according to a U.N. Environment Program report. Of the global emissions from the industry, Japanese apparel supply chains account for 4.5%, the Environment Ministry said.
The ministry last month launched a website to call on consumers to recycle more clothes, while urging the fashion industry to work on new production processes to reduce carbon emissions.
A total of about 510,000 tons of clothes were disposed of in Japan last year without being recycled or reused, according to the ministry.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in late April revealed a new goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 46% by fiscal 2030 from fiscal 2013 levels during a climate summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden.
In line with the new pledge, the ministry now hopes to raise awareness of the environmental impact of the textile industry, including carbon dioxide emissions and water pollution.
“Through providing the information online, we hope consumers know more about the environmental damage from their clothing items, and think about recycling before throwing away,” a ministry official said.
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