Perspectives of Design for Recycling in Fashion System. Redefining fashion waste value models
Authors: Carmela Ilenia Amato, Martina Orlacchio
Abstract: The Fashion industry is facing significant structural and systemic challenges that require a paradigm shift. According to Agamben, the resilience of complex systems is the response to the ability to adapt and evolve through the adoption of innovative and alternative approaches that are able to transfigure reality by overcoming apparent difficulties. The notion of intempestivity, in particular, assumes a critical role in building resilience based on innovation and sustainability. It is defined as a dynamic form that requires a constant process of reinvention, using apparent damage as an opportunity to evolve toward substantial improvement. Calamities, pandemic threats, food crises, destruction of ecosystems and cultural heritages are just some of the negative phenomena, in many ways dramatic, with which design, increasingly has to deal from a survival perspective, returning to "new basic needs," as well as offering solutions to improve the quality of human life. In Europe, economic growth, closely dependent on increased production and consumption of resources generates harmful effects on the environment, eroding biodiversity, and altering climate stability, health and human well-being. Current production and consumption models do not follow sustainability criteria, triggering irreversible phenomena that require urgent intervention strategies. Earth Overshoot Day signals the date when humanity has used all the biological resources that the Earth regenerates throughout the year. While dramatic, the event stirs the consciousness of individuals, about the limits of the Planet and its depleted resources. An often overlooked but significant contributor to the environmental emergency is the overproduction of clothing. According to the World Bank, the Fashion sector is responsible for 10 percent of annual global carbon emissions. Despite approaches in terms of recycling and reuse, globally 88 percent of recycling refers to polyester from bottles, with only 12 percent of recycled material coming from pre-consumer and post-consumer textile waste; moreover, global production of sustainable materials is growing significantly, although there are still negative impacts due to resource leakage in processing. The European framework calls for more efficient management of textile waste, in relation to the development of circular processes in the relevant industry. The EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles calls for textiles to be free of harmful substances, durable, recyclable, and made with mandatory minimum amounts of recycled fibers by 2030; a generic statement that without specific objectives, results in non-compliant outcomes. The textile and apparel manufacturing sectors experience damage along the supply chain that needs a thorough investigation into production processes, shining a spotlight on the real possibilities of post-consumer recycling, from sorting to waste management, according to circular economy principles. From the complex relationship between raw materials, design and production practices and ecosystems, innovative solutions are determined by considering fragilities, environmental and social, to restore the balance. The paper brings together several case studies discussing the effectiveness of changing sectors through recycling and upcycling processes, circularity of materials, and reduction through textile waste valorization. Investigating the dynamics governing the post-consumer waste system, it reveals the effectiveness of upcycling processes in tracing models and conditions useful for sustainable transformation. The desired response of the textile/clothing sector transposes the paradigm shift between sustainable logic and the design perspective of recycling.
Keywords: fashion waste re-design, circular processes, materials from bio-waste, recycling approaches, post-consumerism upcycling model
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