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Propelling textile waste to ascend the ladder of sustainability: EOL study on probing environmental parity in technical textiles

Yasin, Sohail, Sun, Danmei
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.233 pp. 1451-1464
environmental impact, fabrics, flame retardants, landfills, life cycle assessment, manufacturing, municipal solid waste, nanosilver, polyesters, raw materials, textile industry, washing, wool
The textile sector is growing, so does the technical aspects of it. This has resulted in more chemical consumption. Recently, technical textiles, with attributional substances received attention due to sustainability factor in terms of their raw material production and manufacturing. Studies are present using life cycle assessment (LCA) results to justify the environmental preference of technical textiles over conventional textiles by environmental parity method. Technical textiles like antibacterial ones are expected for less washing due to low prevalence of odor-causing germs, therefore pose lower environmental impacts than conventional textiles in a long run. At the end-of-life (EOL), waste generated from technical and conventional textiles, are treated as the same - municipal solid waste (MSW), whether they go for landfill or incineration. In reality, environmental impacts of technical and conventional textiles waste cannot be the same regardless of their differences in phases like raw material, production, use and especially EOL phase. LCA “gate-to-grave” approach was employed to study two technical textiles with the same weight but different functionalities, one is flame retardant (FR) treated wool and the other is silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) treated polyester. They are scrutinized in order to have better understanding of environmental parity, especially in their use phase and at the EOL phase. Ten-midpoint categories were used to analyze the environmental impacts during the use phase and EOL phase of the two technical textiles. Results indicate that in use phase, life cycle impact of technical textiles is upfront and alters with the change in number of washes, the types of applied attributional substances and their release rates. At EOL phase, it was found that there is no correlation between the two types of technical textiles in terms of environmental impacts. They are nonreciprocal to MSW or even conventional textile waste.