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How much carbon is a dress?

How much CO2 is a dress?

A dress is 22 kg of CO2 equivalent on average.

Carbon footprint of different types of dresses

Most frequently used1 materials for dresses are cotton, polyester and viscose.
Dresses are usually2 manufactured in China, India, Germany or Spain.
The average carbon footprint of a dress is 22 kg CO2 equivalent (kgCO2e)3. The lowest is Cotton recycled made in Spain (11 kgCO2e), the highest is Cotton made in India (41 kgCO2e).

60% of the carbon footprint comes from knitting and weaving.

Share of carbon footprint per steps

Manufacturing a dress involves different processes such a knitting & weaving, wet treatment and confectioning.Those processes require about 24 Kilowatt-hour (Kwh)4 of energy. That is where the bulk of carbon emissions come from.

A dress made in India has a carbon footprint 3x higher than a dress made in Spain.

Carbon footprint of a dress per country of manufacture

Countries rely more or less on fossil fuel to produce their electricity. That impacts the product carbon footprint.
For instance a dress manufactured in India has a carbon footprint 3x higher than a dress manufactured in Spain. 5

Using recycled materials emits less carbon.

Carbon footprint of a dress per material

A dress made of recycled materials tends to consume less energy and emits less carbon than a dress made of non-recycled materials.
The difference is most notable between cotton and recycled cotton.


  1. Draft PEFCR, Apparel and Footwear 2021, p. 58 ↩
  2. UN Comtrade International trade in goods and services based, 2019 ↩
  3. Carbonfact custom analysis, 2022 ↩
  4. Base Impact, ADEME ↩
  5. Our World in Data, 2021 ↩

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