Sinha, Pammi, Dissanayake, D. G. K., Hussey, Clare, J. and Bartlett, Caroline (2009) Recycled Fashion. In: Taking up the Global Challenge: 15th Annual International Sustainable Sustainable Development Research Conference, 5-9 July, 2009, Utrecht University, the Nethelands. (Unpublished)

Globally, the textiles industry is worth over $1 trillion, ranked the second biggest global economic activity for intensity of trade, and employs approximately 26 million people. Moreover, it contributes to 7% of world exports, supporting a number of developing, small and industrialised economies as well as individual incomes around the world. The fastest growing sector in household waste is Textiles. Over the last ten years, discounting and low retail prices in the UK have led to 60% increase in sales of clothing, with a resultant 90% rise in textile waste from the consumer. Between 2-3% of UK municipal solid waste contains textiles and shoes. In the UK, it is estimated that consumption of textiles is now 24.16m tonnes, on average 35kg per capita, producing around 3.1 million tonnes of CO2, 2 million tonnes of waste and 70 million tonnes of waste water per year - with 1.5 million tonnes of unwanted clothing ultimately ending up in landfill with the associated methane and greenhouse gas emissions (DEFRA 2006, Madsen et al 2007, University of Cambridge, 2006). The UK government, through DEFRA, took action to “identify, understand and address sustainability impacts from products, services and materials consumed and used in the UK” (DEFRA 2008b). They have set out to examine ten product areas with high negative impact on the environment; textiles/clothing is one. We present findings from research conducted for the Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse on end of life (EoL) management of corporate wear as part of a project funding for the Clothing Roadmap scheme, to be presented to the Government. Site visits and interviews were conducted with a textile recycler in London and a corporation providing corporate wear to examine and understand their End of Life management approaches. Some of the issues raised were: the daily shipment of some 22500 kg of clothing overseas, the seasonal nature of the clothing disposal, the detailed market knowledge required for effective reuse, the necessity for customer relationships and the need for clear government policies to support and regulate the legitimate collection and use of waste. This research aims to explore remanufacturing opportunities for the industry at the end of the lifecycle of clothing. From literature review conducted, reuse of clothing causes the least impact on energy use and appears to be the most environmentally and socially friendly approach to sustainability efforts (Madsen et al, 2007). Remanufacture of clothing is currently practiced but at niche market levels, for it to have a broader impact, it needs to gain entry into the mass-market retail arena. Our goal is to understand how designers, manufacturers and retailers may work together in a remanufacturing process and to propose a new product development method for sustainable consumption of fashion. We, therefore end the paper by reflecting on implications for the potential mechanisms of the supply chain integration and how the large multinationals may become engaged.

Keywords: textile recycling process, fashion value chain, reuse and remanufacture, socio-economic development.

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