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

Wiedemann, Stephen G. and Biggs, Leo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7674-2903 and 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):1081. pp. 1-13.

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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.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2022 06:08
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2022 06:08
Uncontrolled Keywords: wool; recycling; LCA; closed-loop; energy; footprint
Fields of Research (2008): 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment
Fields of Research (2020): 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960703 Environmental Education and Awareness
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1902 Environmental policy, legislation and standards > 190204 Environmental lifecycle assessment
19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1902 Environmental policy, legislation and standards > 190203 Environmental education and awareness
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031081
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/46876

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