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Here’s how AI can make fast fashion more sustainable (and profitable)

New research shows that garment factories using AI models achieve far better environmental results than those that don’t
  • Increasing the technology’s usage could help the fast fashion industry improve its poor reputation for sustainability – potentially boosting sales

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Less than 1 minute Minutes

UPDATED: 22 May 2024, 7:59 am

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform the environmentally harmful fast fashion industry through data-driven modelling, according to new research published in Industrial Marketing Management.

The researchers described conventional fast fashion as a “resource-hungry and pollution-intensive industry” that was responsible for the widespread spoiling of rivers, the overuse of water resources and the release of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of microfibers into the ocean each year. They said that its carbon emissions were predicted to grow by 60 percent by 2030.

The study, titled Unleashing the Power of Artificial Intelligence for Climate Action in Industrial Markets, surveyed 211 garment factory manufacturers in Bangladesh. Its findings showed that businesses employing AI-powered climate service innovation models improved energy efficiency, reduced emissions, and used more renewable energy sources. 

[See more: Fast fashion is far more expensive than you thought]

Lead author professor Shahriar Akter, associate dean of the business and law faculty at the University of Wollongong in Australia, said the research indicated that AI’s “unique capacity to collect, integrate, and interpret big data sets” equipped companies to address climate risks using data-driven approaches.

“AI-powered climate service innovation can improve environmental performance in terms of energy efficiency, reduction of wastage, optimum consumption of natural resources, and sustainable eco-design,” Akter noted.

The study also showed that fast fashion companies with better environmental track records tended to perform better in the market as they met increasing consumer (and often government) demands for sustainability. “An improved environmental performance can also enhance market performance by enabling firms to access new markets, secure new sales leads, and generate more revenues,” said Akter.

UPDATED: 22 May 2024, 7:59 am

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