Circular Economy & Recycling

Modelling post-consumer textile feedstock in regenerated cellulose fiber production

Saal A
Mittwoch, 13.09.2023, 16:45 - 17:10 Uhr
Fiona Ford et al, The University of Manchester, Manchester (GBR)

According to the principles of a circular economy (CE), recycling aims to mitigate environmental damage by creating new products from waste materials and maintaining their value over several life cycles (Pal and Gander, 2018). It is estimated that the European Union (EU) generates over 7 million tonnes of textile waste each year, with the largest portion coming after consumer disposal (McKinsey & Company, 2022). Post-consumer textile waste is largely made up of cellulosic materials (Van Duijn et al., 2022), and have been found to be a suitable feedstock for the production of regenerated cellulose fibers (de la Motte and Palme, 2018). Advancements in textile sorting, purification, and fiber separation as well as legislative advancements in Extended Producer Responsibility (EC, 2008) are set to increase the materials’ availability to manufacturers. These developments have the potential to facilitate high value, closed-loop textile recycling at commercial scale. At present, the value chains needed to supply post-consumer textiles to regenerated cellulose producers are underdeveloped, and little is known of their potential environmental impact. However, partnerships are beginning to form, as indicated by prominent multi-stakeholder initiatives and initial supply deals (Textile Outlook International, 2021).

This research will model life cycle inventory (LCI) scenarios for post-consumer textile supply chains in closed-loop polymer recycling. The LCI models will be created using Simapro Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) software using a cut off approach. The aim is to identify gaps in knowledge obtained from the Ecoinvent database and other secondary sources. The findings will be used to inform the empirical data collection of future research studies and a will facilitate a full LCA as part of the PhD project taking place at the University of Manchester. 
Keywords: Environmental sustainability assessment; circular economy; textile recycling; LCA; regenerated cellulose fibers; post-consumer textile waste