Life Cycle Environmental Impacts Associated with the Integration of Mechanical Cotton Recycling in Take-Back Systems

26 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2022

See all articles by Shimul Roy

Shimul Roy

Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University (MBSTU)

Chu Ying Yi Jodie

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Shauhrat S. Chopra

City University of Hong Kong (CityU)

Abstract

This study assessed the contribution of mechanically recycled cotton for reducing environmental impacts of fabric production by replacing the fabric produced from 100% virgin cotton of different types, including the U.S., BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) Brazilian (B.Z.), Global (GLO) average, and China (C.N.). Carbon emissions, water footprint, air pollution, and land use were investigated as environmental impact categories for producing 1 kg (functional unit) fabric. A 'cradle-to-gate' life cycle assessment (LCA) technique was applied to evaluate the environmental impacts. Based on the circular economy concept, a 'Take-Back' system was modeled to show the potential reduction in environmental impacts by avoiding virgin cotton as raw material. Different scenarios were created considering varying blending ratios (i.e., virgin/ recycled) to identify the possible reduction in environmental impacts. However, this study mainly focused on the environmental impacts of fabric production using 70% virgin and 30% mechanically recycled cotton (target scenario). Results reveal that compared to the baseline impacts (100% virgin), the target blending ratio for fabric production could reduce the environmental impacts by 2.2-8.6% (carbon emissions), 0.3-27.7% (water footprint), 3.3-6.8% (air pollution), and 1.4-26.4% (land use). Compared to the baseline impact scenarios for U.S., GLO, and C.N., the target fabric produced from 70% virgin BCI-B.Z. (Better Cotton Initiative-Brazilian virgin) and 30% recycled cotton could reduce impacts significantly. It can be concluded that recycled cotton could be a substitute for fabric production using 100% virgin cotton. Besides, implementing the 'Take-Back' system could be vital to reduce the environmental impacts and eventually contribute to environmental sustainability.

Keywords: life cycle assessment, carbon emission, Water footprint, Air pollution, Cotton textile, Sustainable fashion

Suggested Citation

Roy, Shimul and Jodie, Chu Ying Yi and Chopra, Shauhrat S., Life Cycle Environmental Impacts Associated with the Integration of Mechanical Cotton Recycling in Take-Back Systems. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4055432 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4055432

Shimul Roy

Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University (MBSTU) ( email )

Chu Ying Yi Jodie

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Shauhrat S. Chopra (Contact Author)

City University of Hong Kong (CityU) ( email )

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