Revealing the management of municipal textile waste and citizen practices: The case of Catalonia

Gemma Morell-Delgado, Laura Talens Peiró*, Susana Toboso-Chavero

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Although the number of studies assessing the textile sector is increasing, only a few focus on its waste management. This study aims to shed light on current textile waste disposal practices and account for their environmental impact. To do so, a combination of citizen surveying and environmental quantitative tools, such as material flow analysis and life cycle assessment, are used to assess municipal textile waste in Catalonia in 2020. The results show that only approximately 10 % of municipal textile waste is separately collected, while 90 % is landfilled/incinerated. Of the 10 % of textiles collected separately, almost 40 % are prepared for reuse and recycled in Catalonia and Spain, approximately 40 % are exported for reuse and recycling in Asia, Africa and the rest of Europe, and the remaining 20 % are incinerated or landfilled, stocked or treated as improper waste. The carbon footprint generated by 1 t of textile waste managed by unseparated collection is 353 kg CO2 eq, which almost double that of 1 t of textile waste collected separately: 207 kg CO2 eq. The results also show that the emissions of textiles collected separately could be considerably reduced by minimizing their exports. The conclusions indicate that a proper course of action includes raising awareness about textile waste management and secondhand buying habits among citizens while investing in better sorting and local recycling technologies to reduce exports. Identifying the existing limitations to creating a local reuse and recycling textile sector is crucial to reduce its carbon footprint.

Original languageEnglish
Article number168093
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume907
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Carbon footprint
  • Consumer behaviour
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Material flow analysis
  • Municipal solid waste
  • Textile waste

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