Post Consumer Textile Waste Sustainability Validation

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Introduction and Hypothesis
According to Ezio Manzini’s research on sustainable innovation, sustainability occurs throughout a supply chain when various aspects of an industry interconnect with one another under a common goal, giving rise to the birth of an economic model where multiple actors (companies, outlets, and stakeholders) cluster their activities in an “original way that permits optimum use of existing resources, and reinforces /regenerates social networks.” [ (Manzini 2007) ] From this perspective, we have taken a normative stance in our hypothesis: that textile recycling offers quantifiable methods of sustainability, as demonstrated in the ways in which the post consumer textile waste industry makes optimum use of existing resources: those resources which would otherwise considered “end-of-life” or “waste” products. Further expanding on Manzini’s sustainable innovation social network model, some of the resulting creations of the textile waste industry are new sub industry networks and resources which offer reduced negative environmental impacts as compared to the processes of creation of similar products from non-recycled materials or virgin fiber. The purpose of this paper is to critically explore certain aspects of the Post Consumer Textile Waste Recycling Industry against this hypothesis, in an effort to determine whether or not PCTW can be validated as a quantifiable “sustainability” strategy or industry practice. The sustainability factors that will be addressed in this study pertain to the long-term maintenance of systems of operation, and the impacts associated with those processes as they relate to resource efficiency, pollution prevention, and waste minimalization. Research Framework

As a preliminary framework in evaluating the Post Consumer Textile Waste Recycling Industry’s supply chain, this paper seeks to descriptively review the industry’s practices, and question what kind of impacts they have on the environment over time by looking at the following sustainability criteria: 1. Participates in the creation of alternative products that offer reduced negative impacts to the environment as opposed to other similar products available from non recycled or original fiber materials. 2. Processes of creating those products use methods which are designed to minimize its negative impacts on the environment throughout the product’s lifecycle, specifically in the areas of: a. Reduced carbon footprint

b. Reduced water consumption
c. Reduced energy consumption
d. Reduction in waste
For the purpose of the exploratory research, certain governance tools have been chosen for assessing these sustainability standards, based on those most widely used in the textile and apparel industries in promoting horizontal links between peers, as well as those tools which have been internationally accepted and accredited. The tools selected for this proposal are the Life Cycle Assessment tool (LCA), the SAC (Sustainable Apparel Coalition)’s HIGG Index, and certification standard ISO 14044. ISO 14044

ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization, a worldwide federation of national standards bodies and technical committees. [ (ISO 14040: Environmental Management-Life Cycle assessment- Principles and framework 2006) ] As recommended by Wesley Ingwersen of the National Risk Management Research Laboratory (the Sustainable Technology Division of the EPA) [ (Ingerwersen 2012) ], ISO 14004 is the international standard for the LCA (Life Cycle Analysis). ISO 14044 specifies and provides guidelines for life cycle assessment, including definition of the goal and scope of the LCA, and details the various phases of the LCA: inventory analysis, impact assessment, interpretation, reporting and critical review, and is commonly used in the creation of certified environmental product declarations. SAC’s (Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s) HIGG Index

Launched in 2012, the Sustainable...
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