Reusing a kilo of clothes saves 25 kg of CO2



Posted on

Sep 15 2021

Each kilogram of reused clothing represents a saving of 25 kilos of CO2, according to a study by the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC).

Pexels / Liza Summer

This is data that the UPC has obtained after an extensive bibliographic review of the research carried out so far in relation to the savings in emissions that the reuse of clothing represents.

The university has highlighted that the figure modifies the estimates that the European Union (EU) proposed so far and that “pointed to a saving of only 3,169 kg of CO2 per kilo of reused clothing.”

The bibliographic review has been carried out within the framework of an investigation of the Institute of Textile Research and Industrial Cooperation of Terrassa (INTEXTER) of the UPC, which has consisted of analyzing the composition of the fibers of about 550 kilos of clothing from containers of the Foundation “Training and Work”.

The characterization has been carried out thanks to an innovative methodology consisting of shredding the pieces of clothing and making the mixture uniform, and the result has made it possible to determine the composition of the textile products, the UPC has indicated.

According to the document, of the total used clothing, 62% of the pieces are reusable and 37% recyclable.

Regarding the fibers with which the pieces are made, the study concludes that cotton predominates, which in 50% of the cases is recyclable and 60% is reusable, followed by polyester, which is both recyclable and reusable in 30%, respectively.

This implies that about 80% of clothing is recyclable and that 88% is reusable, according to the UPC.

On the contrary, it points out that clothing made with acrylic fibers is 12.4% recyclable and 3.1% reusable, since this fiber “deteriorates more easily.”

According to the director of INTEXTER, Enric Carrera, “in light of the analysis, the recycling strategy for post-consumer textile waste should focus on the recovery and reuse of 80% of the predominant fibers, which are cotton and polyester.”

By doubling the useful life of a piece of clothing, he added, “we would achieve a 44% reduction in greenhouse gases produced by the fashion sector” and that only by extending the active use of a piece by nine months ” the carbon, water and waste footprint would be reduced by between 20 and 30% “.

The study includes an analysis of the fiber composition of the garments offered by the websites of the main commercial brands.

For dress clothing, 701 pieces of the top thirty items of T-shirts, sweaters, jeans, underwear, socks and shirts from Zara, H&M, C&A and Mango were analyzed.

The analysis reveals that 66.8% of the garments analyzed present a mixture of fibers, which significantly limits their recycling potential. In contrast, only 37.3% of the parts studied are made 100% with a single fiber.

Regarding household linen, 361 articles were analyzed, specifically the first twenty products of sheets, towels, tablecloths and curtains from Ikea, Zara Home, H & M Home 10 x10 and Carrefour.

Unlike what happened in clothing, home textiles present more monomaterial products and the fibers most present are, in order, cotton, polyester, linen, viscose and lyocell.

In sheets and towels, 100% cotton predominates, while in tablecloths and curtains 100% polyester dominates, although there are also binary mixtures between cotton, polyester and cotton, and linen.

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