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Prospective life cycle assessment of an antibacterial T-shirt and supporting business decisions to create value

Manda, B. M. Krishna
Worrell, Ernst
Patel, Martin
Published in Resources, Conservation and Recycling. 2015, vol. 103, p. 47-57
Abstract Global production and consumption of textiles is increasing and as a result putting pressure on the environment. In the EU-25 countries for example, 2–10% of environmental impacts are associated with clothing consumption, with washing during the use phase as one of the most significant contributors. Antibacterial textiles, which prevent undesirable odours, may reduce the number of washing cycles, thus offering an opportunity to reduce environmental impacts. This article assess to what extent different antibacterial T-shirts offer opportunities. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is used to assist the producer in making business decisions to create value during product development process. To this end, we conducted an LCA for an antibacterial T-shirt made in Europe from bio-based man-made cellulose fibres (modal). The antibacterial property is obtained by silver nanoparticles that are produced with colloidal techniques such as the sol–gel process and in-situ formation. It was found that the T-shirt made of 50% antibacterial fibres with the in-situ process (50AB in-situ) caused 15–20% lower cradle-to-gate CO2 emissions than commercial antibacterial T-shirts. The cradle-to grave comparison with non-antibacterial modal T-shirts showed that the 50AB in-situ T-shirt exhibited better environmental performance, resulting in 20–30% lower impacts in key categories such as climate change, freshwater toxicity and eutrophication. LCA demonstrated value creation opportunities such as lower environmental impacts, lower costs and risks. Moreover, the product’s environmental performance can be transparently communicated to customers, which helps differentiating with competing products in the market, thus offering the producer a competitive advantage.
Keywords Modal fibresAntimicrobial textilesAntibacterial textilesNanosilverNanoparticlesT-shirtLife cycle assessmentResource conservationBusiness value creation
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Research group ISE Energie
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MANDA, B. M. Krishna, WORRELL, Ernst, PATEL, Martin. Prospective life cycle assessment of an antibacterial T-shirt and supporting business decisions to create value. In: Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 2015, vol. 103, p. 47-57. doi: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2015.07.010 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:96531

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Deposited on : 2017-09-06

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