Are wasted textiles an economic factor worth thinking of?

Are wasted textiles an economic factor worth thinking of?

By Virginia F. Bodmer-Altura

We all know that waste forms part of modern life. Our grand-grandparents used – out of need – most of the things times and times again, today, most of the products do have only one life cycle, if at all, especially when it comes to fashion. Waste exists in manufacturing and end use of textiles and is quite a fact of considerations also in respect to the value that is wasted instead of being recycled and reused. We look at some aspects and analyse the newest facts and statistics available.

Seasonal textile clothes, also of very high-tech nature are usually disposed by the end user in the waste bin and this means globally that around 34 of 57 tons of polyester textiles produced every year are going down the drain. What a waste!

American Patagonia is using the Ecocircle System of the Japanes chemical fibre producer Teijin, the first company that has developed a closed cycle recycling system for polyester. The recycled polyester is equal to newly produced polyester, the only imponderability inherent is that the outdated clothes from Europe and USA have to be shipped by vessel to Japan. However Patagonia did some research if this procedure is ecologically advantageous. Yes is the result, since the recycling process of such obsolete clothing is consuming three times less energy and CO2 than to manufacture such apparels with new fibre and the transportation of used clothing by truck within the US is affecting the environment more than the shipping by vessel to Japan. In Patagonia’s stores around the world there are boxes where customers can return products to be recycled and those will be shipped to Japan, the same system box-return system is used by Swiss sporting goods producer Mammut and with the help of its partnership with I:co (I collect). Mammut encourages customers to bring clothes back to the store by issuing a bonus of CHF 5 for future buys. However I:co buys the to be recycled textiles but the recycled products are low tech and therefore not comparable to the high tech system of Teijin and a closed recycling circle.

US Textile Exchange has published some FastFacts on textile and product waste that are impressive. 10 to 20 percent of all textiles in the fashion industry are estimated to be wasted and about 15 % of fabric intended for clothing ends up on the cutting room floor. The US EPA estimates that textile waste occupies nearly 5 % of all landfill space. The exact textile waste of China is not available but since China will soon produce around 50 % of the world’s clothing it will be a gigantic figure. Alone in Hong Kong the daily textile waste sent to landfill amounts to 253 t.

Textile Exchange offers also some figures on used clothing and the finding is that over 70% of the world’s population is using second hand clothes. The USA has exported in 2010 over 100 million kilos of used clothing to Central America and this meant an average of 28 kilos for each citizen of Honduras. It further reveals that used women’s clothing is topping seven times those of men’s. And in Ghana the imported used clothing is called obroniwuawu which means “the white man is dead”.

The extensive listings of Textile Exchange cover also facts on recycling and what it brings as ecological benefits. Using recycled cotton saves 20000 litres of water per kilo of cotton. The American EPA estimates that only 15 % of all textiles are recycled. If everyone in the UK would have been buying one reclaimed woollen garment each year it would have saved an average of 1686 million litres of water and 480 tons of chemical dyestuffs. Looking at France, there was 2009 a consumption of 700000 t of new clothing, textile products, household linen and shoes or 11 kilos per inhabitant. The selective collection rate amounts annually to 15 % or 106000 t or 1.7 kilo per inhabitant. About 70% of the end of life textiles and shoes collected are sorted out thus around 11 % of the tonnage. However up to 95 % of the textiles are ending in land fill instead of being recycled.

The EU statistical bureau EUROSTAT has just released the latest figures on waste and notes that in the EU27 landfill still acconted for 38 % of the municipal waste treated, the recycling quote amounts to 25 %. These are overall figures and the specific figures for textiles are not available.

All in all, this makes you reflect about these valuable resources being just wasted and creating future problems in the land fill. It would be interesting to put a price tag on this waste and its handling, and it would create an astronomical figure!

For total information please visit the website of Textile Exchange, looking for fast facts and the Topic “Textile and Product waste”.

Are wasted textiles an economic factor worth thinking of?

By Virginia F. Bodmer-Altura

We all know that waste forms part of modern life. Our grand-grandparents used – out of need – most of the things times and times again, today, most of the products do have only one life cycle, if at all, especially when it comes to fashion. Waste exists in manufacturing and end use of textiles and is quite a fact of considerations also in respect to the value that is wasted instead of being recycled and reused. We look at some aspects and analyse the newest facts and statistics available.

Seasonal textile clothes, also of very high-tech nature are usually disposed by the end user in the waste bin and this means globally that around 34 of 57 tons of polyester textiles produced every year are going down the drain. What a waste!

American Patagonia is using the Ecocircle System of the Japanes chemical fibre producer Teijin, the first company that has developed a closed cycle recycling system for polyester. The recycled polyester is equal to newly produced polyester, the only imponderability inherent is that the outdated clothes from Europe and USA have to be shipped by vessel to Japan. However Patagonia did some research if this procedure is ecologically advantageous. Yes is the result, since the recycling process of such obsolete clothing is consuming three times less energy and CO2 than to manufacture such apparels with new fibre and the transportation of used clothing by truck within the US is affecting the environment more than the shipping by vessel to Japan. In Patagonia’s stores around the world there are boxes where customers can return products to be recycled and those will be shipped to Japan, the same system box-return system is used by Swiss sporting goods producer Mammut and with the help of its partnership with I:co (I collect). Mammut encourages customers to bring clothes back to the store by issuing a bonus of CHF 5 for future buys. However I:co buys the to be recycled textiles but the recycled products are low tech and therefore not comparable to the high tech system of Teijin and a closed recycling circle.

US Textile Exchange has published some FastFacts on textile and product waste that are impressive. 10 to 20 percent of all textiles in the fashion industry are estimated to be wasted and about 15 % of fabric intended for clothing ends up on the cutting room floor. The US EPA estimates that textile waste occupies nearly 5 % of all landfill space. The exact textile waste of China is not available but since China will soon produce around 50 % of the world’s clothing it will be a gigantic figure. Alone in Hong Kong the daily textile waste sent to landfill amounts to 253 t.

Textile Exchange offers also some figures on used clothing and the finding is that over 70% of the world’s population is using second hand clothes. The USA has exported in 2010 over 100 million kilos of used clothing to Central America and this meant an average of 28 kilos for each citizen of Honduras. It further reveals that used women’s clothing is topping seven times those of men’s. And in Ghana the imported used clothing is called obroniwuawu which means “the white man is dead”.

The extensive listings of Textile Exchange cover also facts on recycling and what it brings as ecological benefits. Using recycled cotton saves 20000 litres of water per kilo of cotton. The American EPA estimates that only 15 % of all textiles are recycled. If everyone in the UK would have been buying one reclaimed woollen garment each year it would have saved an average of 1686 million litres of water and 480 tons of chemical dyestuffs. Looking at France, there was 2009 a consumption of 700000 t of new clothing, textile products, household linen and shoes or 11 kilos per inhabitant. The selective collection rate amounts annually to 15 % or 106000 t or 1.7 kilo per inhabitant. About 70% of the end of life textiles and shoes collected are sorted out thus around 11 % of the tonnage. However up to 95 % of the textiles are ending in land fill instead of being recycled.

All in all, this makes you reflect about these valuable resources being just wasted and creating future problems in the land fill. It would be interesting to put a price tag on this waste and its handling, and it would create an astronomical figure!

For total information please visit the website of Textile Exchange, looking for fast facts and the Topic “Textile and Product waste”.

www.patagonia.com

www.teijin.co.jp/english

www.textileexchange.org


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.