CO2 emissions saved by reusing used clothing

About 550 kilos from containers of the Foundation ‘Training and Work’ is the total weight of used clothing that has analyzed in this study characterizing the fibers that make up T-shirts, shirts, coats, pants, jackets and all kinds of clothing which are dumped in textile waste collection containers. Of the total used clothing used in the containers analyzed, 62% of the garments are reusable and 37% recyclable. As for the fibers with which the garments are made, the study concludes that cotton predominates, with 50% in the case of recyclable clothing and 60% in the case of reusable clothing.

Then follows the polyester, with 30% in both types. Therefore, the sum of cotton and polyester represents about 80% in the case of recyclable clothing and 88% in reusable.
This characterization has been possible thanks to a methodology that consists of crushing the garments and uniformizing the mixture by means of two steps: an automatic carding and the analysis of the nappa obtained with the standardized chemical methodology. The result determines the composition of the textile products, which includes the legal moisture content of each component fiber.
The study also includes an analysis of the fiber composition of clothing and household linen offered on the websites of major brands. For clothing, 66.8% have a mixture of fibers, which significantly limits their potential for recycling. On the other hand, when it comes to household clothes, there are more single-material products. The most common fibers are cotton, polyester, linen, viscose and lyocell, in that order.
The study also concludes that each kilo of reused clothing represents a saving of 25 kilos of CO2, contrary to the estimates proposed so far by the EU, which pointed to a saving of only 3.2 kilos.

A presentation by Diana Cayuela, Professor at Institute of Textile Research and Industrial Cooperation of Terrassa (INTEXTER) – Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC).

About Diana Cayuela
Professor of Textile Chemistry Engineering, responsible of the Textile Polymers Laboratory of INTEXTER and head of the Textile Technology Research Group (TECTEX).
About circular economy, my current lines of research are the following:

  • Study of the recovery of pre- and post-consumer textile waste to obtain yarns.
  • Study of the use of byproducts to obtain fine textile yarns.
    From all my studies, I have published 170 articles and I have presented 130 contributions at national and international conferences.

About Institute of Textile Research and Industrial Cooperation of Terrassa (INTEXTER) – Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)
The INTEXTER is an academic unit of the UPC, whose main objective is research promotion in the textile industry and related sector, as well as industrial cooperation by essays, appraisals, standardization work, homologation and certification.
The Institute participates in R+D projects with local, state and European public funding or in agreement with private companies.
The training of researchers is another objective of the Institute and for this reason, it’s part of the academic direction of the Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in textile and paper engineering, as well as the Doctoral Program in Environmental Engineering, both of the UPC.

Diana Cayuela is speaker at the 2022 edition of the Sustainable Materials 4 Fashion Conference.

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