Hussey, Clare, Sinha, Pammi and Kelday, Fiona (2009) Responsible Design: Re-using/Recycling of Clothing. In: Design Connexity: 8th European Academy of Design Conference, 1-3 April, 2009, Aberdeen, Scotland.

Textile and clothing recycling and reuse is an under researched field, but there is a growing body of literature driven by government concerns and policies about waste management. Studies (ERM, 2007) have noted that the environmental impacts arising from the disposal of clothing to landfill is significant enough to warrant a thorough examination of the opportunities for improving the reuse and recycling of clothing. Three issues have been identified that influence the management of textile waste: government (trade tariffs and policies); company (eg. corporate social responsibility, location of production or manufacture); consumer (trends, tastes, spending capacity)

This paper reports the initial findings of research for the Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse (CRR) ‘Uniform Reuse’ project: the process at a textile recycler in London with landfill waste of no more than 1% of its daily tonnage collected. The process is displayed as an IDEF chart developed through a site visit and interview with the directors of the firm who are involved in the daily activities of the process. Some of the issues raised are: the capacity for waste disposal – shipping 545kg of waste fabric on a daily basis, the (somewhat surprising) seasonal nature of the process, the amount of market research required for effective reuse, the necessity for developing customer relationships over a prolonged period of time, and the need for developing government policies to support and regulate the legitimate collection and use of waste. We highlight the implications for fashion design, e.g. use of natural fibres, difficulties of recycling synthetic fabrics (taking into account the development of closed loop polyester recycling at Patagonia and Teijin) and discuss some of the solutions being developed.

Keywords: textile recycling process, fashion design and reuse

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