Circular design of textiles involves designing textiles in ways that make them last longer, create less waste during their entire life-cycle, are made from non-toxic material and can be recycled (2).
The development and take-up of such solutions can benefit from the use of co-creation approaches in urban environment involving multiple stakeholders, such as designers, manufacturers, researchers, and behavioural scientists. Innovative technologies for customer-driven design and on-demand production can further contribute to lowering the industry’s environmental footprint, especially if coupled with local production and green distribution models (6) (2).
LONGEVITY and REUSABILITY
Circular design principles in the fashion industry greatly impact product longevity as 40% of all reasons for consumers discarding clothes are linked to functional changes of garments, such as holes or tears, worn-out appearance, loss of elasticity or shape, stains, colour changing or fading (5) (7). The use of appropriate materials and the development of innovative fibres and new construction methods of yarns and fabrics can positively influence the quality of the final product, and hence its durability and reusability.
DIGITAL SOLUTIONS FOR TEXTILE WASTE PREVENTION
Design-driven digital precision technologies and AI software can reduce pre-consumer waste, limit the high percentage of returns of items bought online, and encourage on-demand custom manufacturing, leading to efficiencies of industrial processes and lowering the GHG emissions related to the fashion industry and e-commerce (4). Examples of projects applying and developing digital solutions are Refream and Rodinia.
RECYCLABILITY and NEW MATERIALS
Circular design strategies improve the disassembly and recyclability of textiles, by opting for quality materials, avoiding fibre blending, limiting the application of non-textile accessories and components or making them easily removable. Solutions for recyclability in the fashion industry include also the development of innovative biodegradable materials, both for textile and non-textile products, and disintegrating stitching for easy disassembly (3) (5) (9). Representative cases are the projects Naturella and the innovative stitching developed by the project CIRCTEX.
Fashion and textile design can further contribute to circularity in the industry through innovative use of recycled pre- and post-consumer materials, creation of new regenerated fibres from pre-consumer and post-consumer waste, and development of novel biomaterials. Examples are provided by the Trash2Cash and VegeaTextile projects.
Source: VegeaTextile commercial scale first production testing
Circular textiles and fashion design favours the use of sustainable printing technologies, and sustainable, energy- and water-efficient finishing processes (e.g. bleaching, dyeing), which can help achieve not only improved recyclability of the end-to-life product but also an overall lower environmental impact of the manufacturing (3). H2COLOR-AUX provides a good example of an innovative sustainable dyeing product.
Users of such solutions can be:
Businesses (B2B): use of fibres, yarns, fabrics and non-textile materials – e.g. shoe manufacturers, the accessory industry, the furniture industry, the car upholstery industry, and the clothing industry.
Consumers (B2C): customisation of products and use of end-products.
Public administrations (B2G): public procurement as a driver for market demand for circular designed workwear and uniforms (6).
MATURITY: Look at sub-types of solutions.
Many circular design solutions are already ready for commercial deployment or available on the market, for example:
New sustainable materials and/or licensable technologies for their production: e.g. VegeaTextile provides a patented new material, available on the market. The production technology is planned to be made available for licensing to companies currently working in the animal and synthetic leather goods production.
Digital solutions for textiles, such as Rodinia’s replicable “just-in-time” paradigm (based on its state-of-the art machineries and proprietary AI, Rodinia’s services will be available to customers B2B in 2022) or the zero-waste pattern-cutting techniques to reduce textile scrap used by the Trash2Cash project.
Innovative stitching/sewing yarn, such as CIRCTEX’s patented sewing yarn that is disintegrated through microwave technology for easy disassembly and increased recyclability of end-of-life textiles.
Various solutions are in demonstration phase, for example:
Refream’s nebulising machine for sustainable processing, garment wash, garment dye, and garment finishing and it’s Beta 3D scanning app supporting novel tailoring techniques and creation methods for small-scale production of fashion.
New sustainable dyeing techniques and products, such as that proposed by H2COLOR-AUX.
Trash2Cash’s new materials with waste (cotton textiles and cotton/polyester blends) as raw material; 3 high quality materials and various product prototypes have been developed based on consumer insight, offering new eco-fibre options to companies in various industries (fashion, interiors, automotive and other luxury goods).