LCA of garment making and influence of the product quality

Main Presenter:    Noemie Pichon 

Co-Authors:   Guillaume Tartare     Anne Perwuelz      Ludovic Koehl      Romain Benkirane                              

The production phase has been identified as a major source of burdens in the garment life cycle (European Commission et al., 2014). The garment making stage is the last one in the production phase and covers the cutting and assembly processes, and the intermediate ironing. This stage is a source of significant fabric losses, estimated at 60 Milliard square meter per year worldwide. Textile production being a sequential chain, the higher the losses, the higher the consumption of materials and energy in the earlier stages. Yet, LCI data and dedicated LCA study on this stage are currently lacking (Munasinghe et al., 2021). In addition, the manufacturing conditions determine the textile product quality (De Saxce et al., 2012). This technical quality influence the garment lifespan (Benkirane et al., 2022; Piippo et al., 2022) and therefore its environmental impact.
The aim of this study was to determine the link between the quality related to the garment making phase and its environmental impact. The different variables influencing the energy consumption, the fabric consumption (input) and fabric losses (output) have been analyzed in regard with the expected product quality.
For this purpose, we have characterized two types of shirt quality: a high-end/luxury and a mass-market shirt. The machines involved, ironing number, and sewing types differ, as well as stitch count, work guidance and topstitch form. Four shirts were studied: two designs of size-40 man shirt for each quality type. A comparative gate-to-gate LCA modeling on Simapro with EFv-3.0 LCIA calculation method enabled us to identify, for both designs, the high-end/luxury shirt as the most impactful production scenario, all impact categories combined. Indeed, the processes involved for the high-end/luxury shirt consume more energy than the processes for the mass-market one. Still, considering all the flows linked to the garment making phase, most of the impacts are attributable to fabric consumption. Thus, fabric consumption and losses optimization are major eco-design leverages so the variables influencing these two flows have been examined. A performance criteria has been set up, composed of
fabric consumption reduction, losses reduction and garment quality viability. The quality viability criteria include wrap thread, seam quality, and seam edge variables. With a PCA analysis, the higher performance criteria identified currently enable to reduce fabric consumption from 14,5% and fabric losses from 3,5%.
Acknowledgements: Research supported by the Hauts-de-France Region.

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