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Eco-System Services and the Circular Economy for Textiles

Hall, NA and Tyler, David (2018) Eco-System Services and the Circular Economy for Textiles. In: 91st Textile Institute World Conference: Integrating Design with Sustainable Technology, 23 July 2018 - 26 April 2018, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

The concept of industrial ecology has made important contributions to sustainable manufacturing. The discipline majored on applications of systems theory and modelling flows of materials energy and information. However, recognition of the importance of management and policy issues has moved thinking towards industrial ecosystems. This provides the context for interest in the circular economy (CE). The aim of this research, which emerges from the EU-funded Resyntex project, is to appraise the potential for CE in textiles to supplant the present linear supply chains where discarded materials end up in landfill or incinerated. There are major challenges adding value to textile wastes, especially as the materials are mostly from commodity products where price competition is intense. Preliminary work suggests that the business case for CE technologies and processes is not strong enough to attract potential investors. The research reported here draws on the concept of industrial ecosystem services to identify benefits not normally costed when making a financial appraisal. Some of these services can be measured financially, whereas others are indirect and can only be quantified by incorporating policy-related assumptions. However, when textile ecosystem services are quantified and incorporated into the business model, the outcome for CE is considerably more healthy.

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