*Local upcycling. Using the post-consumer textile waste as a raw material to create novel designs with new value.
The rapidly overwhelming mountains of textile waste generated from used garments, household textiles or undisposed clothing has become one of the main sources of concerns that take a toll on the environment and waste management. With Europe, US and China exporting most of their textile waste to African countries, the maddening amount of discarded textiles waste is growing into a major component of the landfills- the extremely polluted rivers, textile dumping or burning in the outskirts in Kenya or Ghana are just some of the visible evidence.
Repurposing and upcycling used clothes locally is one of the most effective solutions there is to deal with the textile waste issues we are facing. Upcycling involves endless creative ways of using old products and redesigning or repurposing them by giving them a new life. Moreover, by making use of already existing materials the consumption of new materials is reduced which can result in a reduction of energy usage, water pollution, CO2 emissions, hence taking a significant step towards zero waste.
The invited exhibitors here showcase a selection of possible solutions to the textile waste problem by taking advantage of the qualities and properties that the discarded textiles still possess and by giving them a new purpose.
*Industrial upcycling - circulating leftovers back to production inside factory
The innovative UPMADE® upcycling design & production system allows industries to turn excess pre-consumer materials into garments which present savings in water, CO2 and energy usage.
UPMADE® enables brands and manufacturers to apply our industrial upcycling method and obtain certification. A circular economy produces zero waste and pollution, by design. It is an ideal that the UPMADE® method supports in a real and practical way. Traditional clothing manufacturing creates an average of 18% textile leftovers. Our method closes the loop by applying upcycling on an industrial scale and reducing the amount of textile leftovers. Thanks to this, that 18% can now be turned from cost into value. The UPMADE® Certification process is the outcome of a solid partnership between comprehensive field research and thorough scientific analysis to meet the most far-reaching aspirations in upcycling. It strives for a smaller environmental footprint and maximised resource efficiency in the textile industry through a broader use of upcycling in industrial production.
The display consists of examples in industrial upcycling by Reet Aus PhD.
+ a video describing an example of industrial upcycling in Bangladesh
*Recycling - presenting practical evidence of the potential of textile recycling.
According to the European Commission’s report “Towards an EU Product Policy Framework contributing to the Circular Economy”, recycled materials only account for around 1% of all materials used in textile production. It’s a surprisingly small number, given that we would be able to do much more. Textile waste has become one of the most complex types of waste in the welfare society. But why?
The reason lies within the materials. This 1% is, in large part, due to the fact that many designers don’t take into account the principles of circularity. Most of the clothes we wear are made out of mixed materials that are difficult or even impossible to recycle. Consumption in the welfare society is endless and post-consumer waste has become a massive problem. Within the European Union, we are only able to collect 25% of used clothing, and only 1% of that gets recycled. The rest is burned or sent to landfill. In Estonia, for example, the recycling percentage is 0%. That is shocking and devastating.
The Sustainable Design and Material Lab in the Estonian Academy of Arts is tackling the issue of post-consumer textile waste with an ongoing research project funded by the Estonian Environmental Investment Centre (EIC). The project aims to find solutions to the Estonian post-consumer textile waste through mechanical recycling, new yarn and textile composite material development. This display showcases a selection of results from material and product development process concluded within this project- all presented product designs are made entirely from recycled textile waste.
* Regeneraitive Textile design - Layers of Repair
The popularity of the #visiblemending is proof that mending textiles is becoming a trend on social media. Is it just a passing flow or can the act of repair mend the World? To avert catastrophic climate change huge numbers of us must embrace necessary shifts in behaviour. Wearing out gives the user a possibility to interact with the clothing by adding layers of repair as a sign of increasing value over time. Mending could be similar to the way nature heals itself - adding up new layers and slowly repairing manmade damages. Imagine a World where things have a life of their own in the hands of a user or multiple users.