Location Dependency of the Sustainability of Textile Fibres
Conference poster, 2011
In the strive for a more sustainable textile industry, it is crucial to have a holistic approach when assessing the sustainability of textile fibres. Apart from consideration of the entire fabric product life cycle, the three dimensions of sustainability and all relevant impact categories, it is also essential to account for the impacts’ dependency on the location of operations. We illustrate this location dependency of impacts by comparing Swedish and East Asian synthetic cellulose fibres. Novel environmental and social life cycle assessment methods are applied for characterising four seldom studied impact categories: water footprint, biodiversity impact of land use, working conditions and contribution to economic/technology development.
The result demonstrates location dependencies due to e.g. latitude, altitude and precipitation of the utilised forest, and working conditions and R&D efforts in the region of operation. Similar location dependencies can be expected for numerous other social and environmental impact categories. Hence, it is unfeasible to make precise claims about the sustainability of a textile fibre solely based on its material composition. Precision will depend on moving beyond generic fabric data, into specific supply chain data. The study also demonstrates that there are usable characterisation methods available for hitherto seldom considered impact categories.