Reducing the Environmental Impacts of Garments through Industrially Scalable Closed-Loop Recycling: Life Cycle Assessment of a Recycled Wool Blend Sweater

Article


Wiedemann, Stephen G., Biggs, Leo, Clarke, Simon J. and Russell, Stephen J.. 2022. "Reducing the Environmental Impacts of Garments through Industrially Scalable Closed-Loop Recycling: Life Cycle Assessment of a Recycled Wool Blend Sweater." Sustainability. 14 (3), pp. 1-13. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031081
Article Title

Reducing the Environmental Impacts of Garments through Industrially Scalable Closed-Loop Recycling: Life Cycle Assessment of a Recycled Wool Blend Sweater

ERA Journal ID41498
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsWiedemann, Stephen G. (Author), Biggs, Leo (Author), Clarke, Simon J. (Author) and Russell, Stephen J. (Author)
Journal TitleSustainability
Journal Citation14 (3), pp. 1-13
Article Number1081
Number of Pages13
Year2022
PublisherMDPI AG
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
ISSN2071-1050
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031081
Web Address (URL)https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/14/3/1081
Abstract

Wool recycling has been practiced commercially for more than 200 years. This study used data from established, commercial processes with the aim of determining the environmental impacts of a recycled wool blend garment and the contribution of recycling to reducing impacts on the market for wool sweaters, in comparison to other emission reduction approaches relating to garment use. A cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment showed impacts of 0.05 kg CO2-e, 0.63 MJ, 0.58 L H2O-e and 0.95 L per wear of a recycled wool blend sweater for climate change, fossil energy demand, water stress and freshwater consumption, respectively. Impacts predominantly arose from garment manufacturing and consumer practices (retail and garment care). When a recycled wool blend sweater was maintained with best practice garment use and care, impacts were reduced by 66–90% relative to standard maintenance of a virgin pure wool sweater. Increasing the closed-loop recycling rate to 50% had the potential to reduce impacts for the wool sweater market 7–24%, depending on the impact category. Brands and consumers hold the key to increasing recycling rates and reducing environmental impacts via increased donation of garments for recycling and increased adoption of garments containing recycled wool.

Keywordswool; recycling; LCA; closed-loop; energy; footprint
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020410402. Environmental assessment and monitoring
Byline AffiliationsIntegrity Ag and Environment, Australia
University of Leeds, United Kingdom
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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