Global warming represents a major subject on all society levels including governments, economic actors, and citizens. The textile industry is often considered a polluting activity. In this project, French textile manufacturers sought to quantify the carbon footprint (CF) of sold clothes and household linen using the Life Cycle Assessment in France to reduce it to meet the constraints of the Paris Agreement by 2050. First, manufacturers calculated the carbon footprint of 17 clothes and household linen products and established alternative scenarios for four production routes. Secondly, they modeled the supply of the upstream sector through different countries. Based on imports of textile products, their calculated CF for one French person reaches 442 kg of CO2eq/year. Means of action to reduce this carbon footprint by a factor of 6 (74 kg of CO2eq/person/year for textiles) are calculated and are the following: installing the most energy-intensive production processes in a country with a low carbon electricity mix, avoiding unsold goods, implementing eco-design approaches, and enhancing the value of end-of-life products with reuse or recycling. Therefore, CF for textiles per capita is reduced to 43 kg CO2eq/year which goes beyond the objectives of the Paris Agreement and facilitates carbon neutrality in the textile sector. The priority for reducing the French carbon footprint of clothes and household linen would be to locate textile production in countries with (i) low carbon electricity, (ii) to reduce unsold items, and (iii) to elaborate eco-design of a product including the circular economy.

Keywords: textiles; clothes; apparel; household linen; carbon footprint; circular economy; recycling; life cycle assessment; LCA; Product Environmental.

  1. Introduction 

The awareness of global warming is omnipresent in political strategies, and it is increasing more and more in consumer choices. Despite this fact, consumption of mass-market products is growing, and global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions continue to grow. There is an increase of 1.7% in 2017, 2.1% in 2018, and a little decrease to 0.6% in 2019 (1). These variations led to annual emissions of more than 53 billion tons of CO2 equivalent in 2019 (2). On a worldwide scale, this growth seems to be unappeasable, even if European countries tend towards controlling and reducing carbon emissions. Regarding emissions mitigation, Germany is the leading country reaching 8% in 2019; whereas France has difficulty in following their example (−1% only) (3). The outcomes are potentially serious, particularly if the predictions believe that the warming level will reach 2◦C in 2050 and exceed 4◦C in 2100. Furthermore, beyond the consideration of the water-level rise that is projected to reach more than 0.7 m (1), the drastic foreseeable consequences are already there, such as an increase in climatic hazards, forest fires, etc. (4-6). With the Paris Agreement in 2015, limiting global warming on a worldwide scale was planned to be a maximum of 2◦C by 2100 (6). For this objective to be reached, the GHG emissions must be reduced on average by a factor of 6 for the next 30 years. The first strategy would require targeting the main GHG source sectors and drastically reducing

them. Nevertheless, the analysis of emissions indicates that 75% of a citizen’s emissions in undeveloped countries are covered by three sectors: mobility, heating, and food (7). In that context, dividing the emissions by 6 seems difficult as a solution since nobody wants to stop these three main causes of emission. In addition, these large emission sectors can be subdivided into small sources of GHG emissions contributing to global warming. This observation leads to the main proposed solution by maintaining the same standard of living while reducing GHG emissions by a factor of 6. The worldwide textile sector is accused of being “the second most polluting industrial sector after hydrocarbons” according to the French President (8). However, it is known that one consumer buys on average a few kilograms of textiles each year. This general accusation is raising many questions from the manufacturers of textiles in France, among them, their impact on the environment. To address this issue, they decided to quantify the carbon impacts of the household linen and clothes industry (excluding footwear) using the Life Cycle Assessment method (ISO 14040-44). (9,10) This method, now highly regulated by ADEME (French EPA) and European Union within the framework of the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF), quantifies the environmental impact of products from the extraction of resources till their end-of-life (11,12). For such a calculation, the challenge is to define the function that must be satisfied, the scope of the study, and the impact categories covered. For that purpose, this work studied the CF (carbon footprint) for one kilogram of the textile purchases (mix of household linen and clothes) during the year 2019 (13). The textile sector is at the same time a first-rate economic sector, but also an industrial and retail sector with astonishing complexity. This is due mainly to the globalization of the textile production sector, the successive offshoring of production means, and the consequences coming out of modern fashion temporarily (14). Thus, an important part of the study is describing the calculation methodology of the CF and its implementation in the textile sector to identify and quantify improvement solutions.

  • Definition of carbon footprint

The term the carbon footprint was first used in the concept of ecological footprint proposed By Williams Reese and other scholars. An ecological footprint is a biologically productive regional space that can continuously provide resources or absorb waste areas, which means To maintain the survival of a person, region, country, or the world, or to accommodate the Waste discharged by human beings, with biological productivity of the area (23).

  • The Carbon Footprint is assessed in 2 layers
  1. Primary footprint – monitors carbon emission directly through energy consumption – burning Fossil fuels for electricity, heating, and transportation, etc.
  2. footprint- relates to indirect carbon emissions (Life cycle of products and Sustainability).

Thus, the most effective way to decrease a carbon footprint is to either decrease the amount of energy needed for production or to decrease the dependence on carbon-emitting fuels.

The textile industry is one of the major consumers of water and fuel (energy required for electric power, steam, and transportation). The per capita consumption of textiles is about 20 kg/year and Increasing day by day. The world population has reached 7 bn out of which almost 18 % is from India. Thus, the energy requirement and consequently the Carbon footprint of the Textile industry In India is considerably high and at the same time, the Textile Industry in India is

Expected to grow from an estimated size of US$ 70 bn today to US$ 220 bn by 2020 which would Proportionately increase the impact on our Carbon Footprint. Thus, we must take immediate steps and develop innovative technologies and sustainable solutions that can help reduce the environmental impact. The Government is also Demanding industries to comply with stricter conditions for environmental protection (15).

Use the estimated Global consumption and processing of textile substrates is shown above. In India Also, Polyester and Cotton constitute more than 80 % of textile processing. The textile industry, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, is the 5th largest Contributor to CO2 emissions. Thus, the textile industry is huge and is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gasses on Earth. In 2008, annual global textile production was estimated at 60 bn Kg of fabric. The estimated energy and water needed to produce such quantity of fabric is:

  • 1,074 bn kWh of electricity or 132 mn MT of coal and
  • About 6-9 tn liters of water

Thus, the thermal energy required per meter of cloth is 4,500-5,500 Kcal and the electrical energy required per meter of cloth is 0.45-0.55 kwh The carbon footprint of the textiles is estimated based on the “embodied energy’ in the fabric, comprising all the energy used at each step of the process needed to create that fabric. To estimate the embodied energy in any fabric it’s necessary to add all the process steps from fiber To finished goods. Based on the fiber used the carbon footprint of various fibers varies a lot (16)(17).

Further, based on the study done by the Stockholm Environment Institute on behalf of the Bioregional Development Group, the energy used (and therefore the CO2 emitted) to create 1 ton of Spun fiber is much higher for synthetics than for cotton:

Fiber  Kg CO2/Ton of fiber
Polyester 9.52
Cotton- conventional 5.89
Cotton 3.75

For natural fibers, the energy consumption starts at planting and field operations – mechanized Irrigation, weed control, pest control and fertilizers (manure vs. synthetic chemicals), harvesting, And yields. Synthetic fertilizer use is a major component of conventional agriculture: making One ton of nitrogen fertilizer emits nearly 7 tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases. In the case of Synthetics, the fibers are made from fossil fuels, where a very high amount of energy is consumed in extracting the oil from the ground as well as in the production of the polymers. (17)(18).

The Embodied Energy used in the production of various fibers:

Fiber Energy in MJ/Kg of fiber
Cotton 55
Wool 63
Viscose 100
Polypropylene 115
Polyester 125

Natural fibers, in addition to having a smaller carbon footprint, have many additional benefits: Being able to be degraded by micro-organisms and composted (improving soil structure); in this way, the fixed CO2 in the fiber will be released and the cycle closed. On the other hand, Synthetic fibers do not decompose in landfills, they release heavy metals and other additives into soil and groundwater. Recycling requires costly separation, while incineration produces Pollutants – in the case of high-density polyethylene, 3 tons of CO2 emissions are produced for every 1 ton of material burnt. Substituting organic fibers for conventionally grown fibers considerably helps reduce carbon Footprint based on (18).

  • Elimination of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which is an improvement in human health and agro-biodiversity
  • Conserves water – making the soil more friable so rainwater is absorbed better – lessening Irrigation requirements and erosion

An additional dimension to consider during processing: environmental pollution. Conventional Textile processing is highly polluting:

  • Up to 2000 chemicals are used in textile processing, many of them known to be harmful To human (and animal) health. Some of these chemicals evaporate while some are Dissolved in treatment water which is discharged to our environment.
  • The application of these chemicals uses copious amounts of water. The textile industry is the largest industrial polluter of fresh water on the planet. (19)

2.Evaluation method of carbon footprint for the textile industry 

Through consulting the literature on the evaluation of carbon footprint in the textile industry, it is concluded that the evaluation methods of carbon footprint and carbon Footprint in the textile industry mainly include ecological cycle evaluation method, input–Output analysis method, and mixed life cycle evaluation method.

First, the input-output model is an economic quantitative method to study the Interdependence between various parts of the economic system, which runs in the whole Industry cycle. Christopher analyzed the impact of international trade on the carbon Footprint of American households by using the method of inter-regional input-output Analysis model and life cycle assessment (LCA) through the investigation of consumption and expenditure (21)(22) then further Expanded the research to the multi-region input-output model to make a comparative analysis of different time scales and different families (22).

The whole life cycle of the textile industry is very long. Based on the activities of the Textile industry, it is defined as three stages: the first stage is the agricultural stage, i.e., the Cultivation of textile raw materials; the second stage is the industrial stage, i.e., the production And processing of textiles; and the third stage is the sales stage, i.e. the transportation and Distribution of textiles. The input-output method is used to analyze the carbon emissions generated by the economic activities of the textile industry in different stages, which are not only targeted but also can avoid the truncation error. At the same time, the input-output

An analysis table is established, which can be used to calculate the carbon footprint of the textile industry easily and quickly.

Then, LCA is a typical system analysis method, which is opposite to input-output Analysis and a bottom-up carbon footprint calculation method. The evaluation steps of the LCA Method for carbon footprint include the following steps: the establishment of product manufacturing flow chart, determination of system boundary, collection of data, calculation of carbon footprint, and test of results. To standardize and promote the application of carbon Footprint accounting in enterprises, the International Organization for Standardization, the British Standards Institute, and the World Resources Institute have developed or are developing standards for carbon footprint accounting of organizations and products (24).

 Finally, hybrid economic input-output LCA is gradually developed based on LCA. This method was proposed by Bullard after the first oil crisis in the 1970s and was mainly used for energy input-output analysis (20). The Stockholm Environmental Research Institute calculated the carbon footprint of British schools by combining process Analysis and input-output analysis. Based on the input-output analysis, supplemented by Process analysis based on the detailed data. This hybrid method can integrate the Advantages of process analysis and input-output analysis. It not only has the systematic Advantages of a top-down method but also has the flexibility of the bottom-up method. It also can get more objective and systematic evaluation results.

Based on reading of domestic and foreign research on the carbon footprint of the Textile industry, summarizing the previous research results, it is found that most of the Research on the carbon footprint of the textile industry is focused on the research of textile Processing, and there is little research on textile industry to analyze its carbon footprint in the whole life cycle. LCA theory is the current research hotspot, and the relevant Organizations in the world generally formulate carbon emission calculation standards based On LCA theory. Through the analysis and comparison of the above three-carbon emission Calculation methods, combined with the research object of the textile industry, it is suggested to Select the LCA method to calculate the carbon emission of products (20)(22).

3.Review of Literature

3.1 Settlement

The definition of Settlement according to UU No.1 /2011 is part of a residential environment consisting of More than one housing unit that has infrastructure, facilities, public utilities, and has support for other functional activities in urban areas or rural areas. Housing is a collection of houses as part of settlements, both urban and rural, which are equipped with infrastructure, facilities, and public utilities because of efforts to fulfill livable houses. (25) Housing as part of settlements must be produced efficiently and sustainably to meet basic human needs for decent housing, a healthy, safe, harmonious, and orderly environment and to give direction to the growth of a region and to support development in the economic, social, and cultural fields. other fields in the context of improving and equitable distribution of welfare for all community groups in accordance with the policies of a balanced residential environment (26).

3.2 Carbon Footprint

Relationship between the secondary carbon footprint and the primary carbon produced. The carbon footprint unit Is tons of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) or kg-equivalent-CO2 (kgCO2e) (28). Calculation of carbon footprint can be calculated by looking at the use of fossil fuels used. Fossil fuel Is in the form of petroleum or natural gas which can Directly produce carbon dioxide (CO2) (27). In addition, the Carbon footprint can also be calculated by looking at the Use of electricity in everyday life. CO2 emissions Generated from electricity usage activities come from Power plants as suppliers of electricity used (25). Carbon dioxide emissions are calculated by multiplying the amount of fuel consumption by emission Factors from the type of fuel consumed. This calculation method is a method of calculating CO2 emissions based on fuel used based which has a level of reliability, so it is strongly recommended to calculate CO2 emissions from fuel consumption (29).

  1. Conclusion

Based on literature review and expert opinion, it is necessary to conduct research related to carbon footprint from settlement activities by adding the calculation of Carbon dioxide emissions generated from waste Generation and consumption of clean water in Households. The estimated carbon footprint of this Carbon footprint activity is then mapped using a Geographic Information System to describe the Distribution of the carbon footprint of an area. The results of this research will be expected to be used in Making appropriate mitigation decisions or policies to reduce carbon emissions. (30)(32)


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Author:  Krishna Kant Arya