From waste to wardrobe A comparative life cycle assessment on prolonging garment lifetime through repair and online second-hand

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Master's Thesis
Industrial ecology (MPTSE), MSc
Collin Aronsson, Klara
Jagefeldt, Johanna
The clothing industry, encompassing all its activities from production to end-of-life, is a major contributor to environmental damage. The global production and consumption of clothes have roughly doubled in the past 15 years and fast fashion, with short garment lifecycles, intensifies the resource demand and the ensuing emissions. As a response, a shift from the traditional linear model of take-make-dispose to circularity can be seen through clothing companies working with circular business models (CBMs) or implementing circular strategies. Understanding the environmental impact of these circular initiatives is crucial for reducing the overall environmental footprint of clothing. The aim of the thesis was to assess the environmental impact of prolonging a pair of pant’s lifetime through two CBMs based on circular strategies or business models represented on the Swedish market and comparing it to the linear model. This was done by a mapping of Swedish clothing companies to select two either circular strategies or CBMS to serve as the foundation for the proposed models. Two general CBMs, one based on repair and one on an online second-hand (OSH) platform, were created, derived from information from interviews and literature. The environmental impact of the models was evaluated by conducting a life cycle assessment, and a sensitivity analysis was performed to assess the robustness of the results. The study found that companies are embracing circularity, either through CBMs or by implementing circular strategies such as physical and online second-hand, repair, exchange, and rental services. It was also shown that by extending a pair of pants’ lifetime through CBMs based on repair or OSH, the environmental impact per garment lifetime is reduced compared to the linear model. It was found that repair resulted in the lowest impact due to the significant increase in the number of enabled uses and the relatively small impact from the repairing process, despite a large impact from additional consumer car transports. OSH was also found to be preferable to the linear model. The additional processes required by OSH, i.e. truck transports and sorting and managing of the pants had a relatively low environmental impact and the CBM enabled more uses of the pants than the linear model achieved. However, OSH enabled fewer uses compared to repair, which made it fall between the linear model and repair in terms of overall impact. Lastly, it was also found that the potential of both repair and OSH is mainly dependent on consumers’ transportation modes and distances, and the actual number of achieved uses. The study shows the importance for consumers to fully utilize purchased garments and to consider repairing them instead of buying new ones when they are worn out. When consid- ering selling or donating their clothes, the study also shows the importance of only doing so if the garments are undamaged and of good quality to avoid additional transportation and waste creation that could ensue if the receiving company should deem the clothes unfit for resale. This, as general consumer behavior, would result in an overall reduction in the demand for the production of new clothing. Furthermore, the study shows that the con- sumers’ choice of transportation mode and ability to combine errands is of big importance to the overall efficiency and impact of the CBM.
Circular economy , circular business model , circular strategies repair , second-hand , environmental impact , textile industry , fast fashion , clothing
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