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Textile waste

Textile waste, Recycling? and life cycle analysis of degradable materials

Landfill Directive in relation textile waste

The Landfill Directive represents a step change in the way waste is disposed of in the UK.   Its aim is to help drive waste up the hierarchy through waste minimisation and increased levels of re-use, Recycling? and energy recovery.  The Directive's overall aim is "to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment, in particular the pollution of surface water, groundwater, soil and air, and on the global environment, including the greenhouse effect, as well as any resulting risk to human health, from the landfilling of waste, during the whole life-cycle of the landfill". It sets demanding targets to reduce the amount of Biodegradable? municipal landfill. These targets are:

•  By 2010 to reduce Biodegradable? municipal waste landfilled to 75% of that produced in 1995

•  By 2013 to reduce Biodegradable? municipal waste landfilled to 50% of that produced in 1995

•  By 2020 to reduce Biodegradable? municipal waste landfilled to 35% of that produced in 1995.

More information can be found at the following link:Recycling?-guide.org.uk/targets.html"> (Click here)

Recycling? Textile Waste

Why recycle textiles?

Over 1 million tonnes of textiles are thrown away every year, mostly from domestic sources, of which only 25% are recycled.

Textiles represent between 3% - 5% of household waste.

Estimates for arising of textile waste vary between 550,000 - 900,000 tonnes each year.

Recycling? textiles can save up to 15 times the energy recoverable by incineration.

Textiles make up 12% of landfill sites.         

Although there has been an increasing volume of clothes consumed and disposed of, many of these clothes are of decreased quality.   Additionally Biodegradable? materials in the Recycling? system are seen as potential contaminates: (Click here)  These factors have added to the complexities of Recycling?

Life Cycle Analysis

Quantifying the overall impact of a product on its environment demands an account of all the inputs and outputs throughout the life cycle of that product, from its birth, including design, raw material extraction, material production, part production, and assembly, through its use, and final disposal. 

Information on Life cycle analysis of Biodegradable? fibres:Biodegradable?-fibers"> (Click here) 

In the case of a textile in a global market, much of the variability will be in the production of the fibre, which is illustrated here:

Energy used in production of fibres


energy use in MJ per KG of fiber:

flax fibre (MAT)
















SOURCE: “LCA: New Zealand Merino Wool Total Energy Use”, Barber and Pellow, 

More on life cycle analysis: (Click here)

Combining Economic Input-Output Models and Life Cycle Assessment: (Click here)

Fig 9

Figure 10 - Life cycle analysis

In order for Lifecycle evaluation to lead to the development of sustainable waste management and Recycling? policy it is necessary to be able to evaluate the external costs of these schemes in comparison with alternative methods of waste disposal.

These issues are considered in the following link:  (Click here)