Study | LCA-based assessment of the management of European used textiles

The study provides a qualitative overview of the market surrounding used textiles both in Europe and
globally. This includes a presentation of current and future collection and sorting practices in Europe, the
share and fate of various qualities, including both reuse and recycling, and projected volumes, fates and
composition of collected textiles post 2025. Then, the two comparative lifecycle assessments are presented.
First, the LCA of imported new garments vs imported second-hand garments, and then the LCA comparison
of exported reused textiles vs. recycling in Europe. Each LCA includes the following parts: 1) Goal and scope,
2) Life cycle inventory analysis, 3) Life cycle impact assessment, 4) Interpretation, 5) Limitations and 6)
Conclusion. Lastly, the report presents a set of recommendations based on the findings.

The lifecycle impact assessment of reuse compared to a new product confirms that the environmental
impact of reuse is significantly lower than the production of a new garment, for all three qualities. For both
the crème and the B-grade t-shirt, the new garment is responsible for almost 70 times more overall
environmental impact than a reused t-shirt, and in terms of CO2-equivalents, the reuse of both types of
garments saves more than 3 kg CO2. The impact from a new garment primarily comes from the production
of fibres as well as the production in itself, whereas the little impact connected with reuse comes from
transportation to point of sales. But the latter is comparably trivial to the impact of the production of a new
garment, that the study supports the existence of a global market for reuse, despite the connected
transportation.

EuRIC Textile Branch Partners

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