Risks and Management of Textile Waste

Part of the Environmental Chemistry for a Sustainable World book series (ECSW, volume 22)


World textile production has been consistently increasing in recent years. Global population growth and rising living standards have caused an increase in textile demands as a natural consequence of basic needs and have also resulted in overconsumption as a consequence of fast fashion trends. A World Bank study has predicted a 70% global increase in municipal solid waste by 2025, which means that the expected waste volume will rise from today’s 1.3 billion tonnes to 2.2 billion tonnes per year. Solid waste dumping is a crucial risk, especially for developing countries. Insufficient collection and thoughtless disposal of solid waste causes land and air pollution and creates risks to human health and the environment. Thus, the management of textile waste has gained importance, and developing nations should spend a major part of their municipal revenues on waste management.

In this chapter we review the risks of textile waste and waste management strategies from various aspects. The general outline of this review includes three main topics: (i) the types of textile waste, (ii) the top five strategies for waste management, and (iii) utilization of textile waste in novel product designs. Textile waste can be divided into three groups: production waste, preconsumer waste, and postconsumer waste. Although 35% of the initial input is lost before the product reaches the consumer, the main risk pertains to postproduction waste when a 2-year lifetime for clothing is taken into consideration as a consequence of fast fashion trends. Moreover, the management of textile waste is a formidable problem. The overall guiding principles for waste management, from the most to the least environmentally favored, are reduction, reuse, recycling, energy recovery, and disposal of waste. Unfortunately, huge amounts of textile waste are landfilled just because of thoughtless types of acquisition. However, 45% of postconsumer textile waste can be worn as secondhand clothing, 30% of it can be cut up and used as industrial rags, 20% of it can be biodegraded after landfilling, and only the remaining 5% of it will be unusable. Since waste generation is not adequately controlled, utilization of this waste is gaining importance; thus, both designers and engineers are studying ways of making new products from this waste. These promising solutions are discussed in the latter part of this review.


Textile waste Recycling Upcycling Downcycling Fast fashion Slow fashion Sustainability Environment Reuse Waste management 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Textile Technologies and Design Faculty, Department of Textile EngineeringIstanbul Technical UniversityIstanbulTurkey

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