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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project
(2024)

Examining Cut-and-Sew Textile Waste within the Apparel Supply Chain

Deliverables:

Proposal

Final Report

Executive Summary

Description

Clothing manufacturers generate pre-consumer textile waste in the production process. As fabric is cut and sewn, unused fabric scraps are discarded. This project was designed with Patagonia to analyze the environmental and public health impacts of the pre-consumer textile waste created in the apparel supply chain. This study quantified the pre-consumer cotton, polyester, and nylon textile waste in Patagonia's cut-and-sew facilities in Vietnam. Then, the impacts of this waste were compared across four disposal scenarios: landfill, incineration, mechanical recycling, and chemical recycling. Key findings include an estimated 16–21% of the fabric was wasted in the cut-and-sew process, and textile recycling has substantial environmental advantages over landfills and incineration. Additionally, the impact of textile waste depends on regional factors such as waste management infrastructure, the energy grid, and public policy. The project team recommended a multi-faceted approach to reducing the impact of pre-consumer textile waste, emphasizing legislative advocacy, industry collaboration, and the scaling of textile recycling technologies. The team hopes that identifying existing gaps in the data with this research will encourage collaboration and further research in the apparel industry. It is recommended that future research focus on the end-of-life impacts of cotton, nylon, and polyester, specifically in regions that produce most of the world's apparel, like China, India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.

Acknowledgements

UC Santa Barbara Bren School: Dr. Roland Geyer, Professor; Dr. Matthew Potoski, Professor; Dr. David Tilman, Distinguished Professor; Jaenna Wessling, PhD Student

Patagonia: Natalie Banakis, Materials Innovation Engineer; Luca Bonanomi, Material Innovation; Cassia Cameron, Material Developer; Richard Chen, Production Manager; Chau Diep; Kim Drenner, Head of Environmental Impact; Matt Dwyer, VP, Product Impact & Innovation (Sustainability); Samantha Dae Hamilton, Supply Chain Performance Management; Laura Hoch, Material Innovation; Rachel Kanter Kepnes, Supply Chain Social Impact; Mitchell Maier, Environmental Impact Analytics Engineer; Rob Naughter, Materials Innovation; Malgorzata Nowinka, Senior Size and Fit Pattern Engineer; Bennett Ray, Environmental Impact Specialist; Jaimee Redfern, Senior Size and Fit Specialist/Patternmaker; Wendy Barahona Savage, Senior Director, Social Impact & Transparency; Mel Shank, Senior Analyst - Supply Chain and Corporate Environmental Impact; Lyndsey Sulivan, Worn Wear Operations Manager

Ciara Cates, Strategist - Fashion & Sporting Goods, Quantis

Jennifer DuBuisson, Senior Director Sustainability, Levi Strauss & Co.

Diana Rosenberg, Technical Lead, Environmental Management, Battery Supply Chain, Tesla

The Dipaola Foundation

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