Waste Management in Textile and Fashion Industry

Waste Management in Textile and Garment Industry

Shubham Anil Jain
Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited
Bangalore, India
Email: shubhamajain125@gmail.com


When the Textiles and Apparel (T&A) sector is considers, it is one of the most significant industrial sectors and plays a vital role towards contribution to national economy, employment generation and exports in developing countries and most essential consumer goods industry. However, textile and fashion industry is blamed for being one of the most polluting industries. It’s not only restricted to production but also consumption of textiles also produces waste. To face this problem, textile industry has taken many measures for reducing its negative contribution towards environment and earth. One of such measures is textile recycling-the reuse as well as reproduction of fibers from textile waste. Recycling can be done through thermal, material, chemical and mechanical processes. Textile recycling is beneficial for environmental and economic conditions, reducing demand for textile chemicals, requirement of landfill space is reduced, consumption of less energy and reducing of water wastage.

Waste in Garment Industry:

  1. It is commonly observed that, the cutting process of garment manufacturing creates the largest amount of pre-consumer fabric wastage. If cutting process is simplified or improved, the waste generation can be reduced to a large extent.
  2. Textile waste can be broadly classified 2 categories that is pre-consumer and post-consumer waste. The waste generated at factory floors during cutting, and during the manufacturing process of apparel making, and includes fabric selvedges and leftover fabric scraps is called pre-consumer waste. Postconsumer waste is generated by articles like used apparel, towels, bedsheets, carpets, rugs, upholstery, and other textile items.
  3. Performance: The waste created in the textile and garment industry consists of fabrics and trims—including buttons, embroidery threads, and other adornments. It is estimated that 10-25% of fabric is wasted during cutting process. Waste can be happened because of misprints and embroidery mistakes. If the printing and embroidery is done efficiently, it can help eliminate textile waste to a great extent. The cutting floor waste can be generated because of wrong sample making, sewing waste from poor craftsmanship, and finishing process waste from dyeing and embroidery can be eliminated by good craftsmanship and care. Correct estimation of fabric consumption can help reduce waste by avoiding of orders of excess fabric quantities.
  4. Tradition: India, being a developing economy, has a strong culture of recycling. The life cycle of t-shirt starts at a party, move on to a casual outing, to nightwear, eventually used in the Holi festival of colors, and then finally, a mop to clean the floor. This concept of recycling is evident in the apparel industry as well. There are lots of companies who use recycle fabric wastes to create accessories, jewelry and patched one-of-a-kind garments. Doodlage, a brand started by Kriti Tula in 2012, creates clothing from textile waste.
  5. Chindi, literally meaning “scraps,” is another brand that uses fabric scraps from the garment-making process and crafts them into toilet kits, yoga bags, tote bags, and small clutches.
  6. Systems in Production: The system can be implemented sue to which the waste can be reduced at sample making, fabric cutting, manufacturing, packaging, sewing and finishing levels. One way to reduce the waste is, go for manufacturing large quantities of the same style in different colors or prints, as cutting and production is easier with efficient marker making. A lot of designers have poor technical skills like pattern making and fabric cutting, which results in increased fabric wastage.
  7. The simple measures to reduce the fabric waste is by buying the right width of the fabric. Buying 36 inch wide fabric for a 46-inch-wide shirt will create more waste, as will a 46-inch width for a 36-inch wide scarf. Thus, for any designer, it is important to know the technical skills of pattern making and garment construction.
  8. Companies like FabScrap, which gather all the fabric waste from manufacturers and sell it to designers and quilters, are enhancing the systems of fabric shopping. This helps small designers to experiment with less fabric quantities and in return the bigger textile manufacturers are able to get rid of their excess fabrics.
garment waste
Figure 1: Garment waste

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Different Waste Management Systems in the Textile and Fashion Industry:
Waste management in textile industry is defined as the methods and actions required to manage waste from its beginning to the end. This deals with waste of collection, transportation, treatment, and disposal, as well as waste management process monitoring and control, as well as waste-related laws, technologies, and economic systems. One of the smallest ways we lessen the risk of extinction is to protect our body from excessive temperature variation through the consumption of textiles.

spinning waste
Figure 2: Spinning waste

Commercially, it is commonly found that, the manufacturing of textile goods influences textile waste generation; as well as the more the output, the larger the amount of trash. Basically, customers response to changes in fashion in both apparel and home interior design. Clothing and dressing can become outdated extremely fast due to seasonal changes in fashion, which encourages the substitution and disposal of outdated, but high-quality apparel. As a result, in reaction to a “throwaway society,” manufacturers will increasingly produce large quantities of low-durability apparel. Economic success also has an impact on this tendency; as consumer spending increases, so does waste output from both the manufacturing and home sectors.

Following are some of the waste management methods:

1. Textiles with technical applications:
In past, textiles were first manufactured and then tested for their appropriateness for an end use; if superior, they were converted into the required product for a purpose. In contrast, the fiber selection, yarn qualities, and functional finishing are selected and implemented depending on the properties necessary in the ultimate product. Nowadays recycled fabrics are used for filtering purpose. Recycled fibers are also been used in automotive interiors, agro textiles, geotextile reinforcement, acoustics, building construction textiles, upholstery, package textiles, and food packing materials.

2. Composting:
From last few years, because of increased awareness of the negative impacts of non-biodegradable synthetics has accelerated enormous opportunity for manufacturers to consider degradable/compostable textiles. Nappy pads, wipes, agro-textile mulching sheets, and car interiors are now designed in such a way that, it has to be returned to nature at the end of their life cycle. Nonwovens and disposals are the order of the day. This method can be used to process both natural and regenerated fibers. When discarded in a landfill, this kind fabric is compostable/degradable. Various studies are being conducted to convert chemical-free post-industrial waste into composts and apply it to plants as bio-manure. Effective microorganisms can be used to fortify and enrich the medium, making it more nourishing to the soil, plants, and water bodies.

3. Source Reduction:
To reduce the waste generation, the first stage in an integrated waste management system should be source reduction. For example, one should try fir avoiding waste formation, internal waste reuse, reuse in other products, and so on. One can follow incineration,  a method of recovering thermal energy by burning solid waste. For example, PP has the same heat value as gasoline. Textile waste, such as short, shredded, or loose fibers, can also be recycled into palatable fuel.

4. Regeneration:
One can use recycled fibres, for cleansing cloth, yarns untwisted and re-spun into new yarn varieties, mattresses, and wadding. Another process is regeneration, where the fibre is regenerated from a natural source using heat and chemicals. Tencel, Lyocell, and Seacell are a few prominent brands that produce textile fibers from wood. The trees are felled, and the wood is chopped into minute particles that, after being treated with chemicals and subjected to high temperatures and pressure, are spun into a textile thread. These are used to create fabrics with long-lasting qualities.

Because of increasing environmental problems have forced companies manufacturing goods to meet basic necessities of people to turn their looks to environment based management strategies. The main aim of ecological production is to adopt and implement certain strategies that can make maximum use of nature without generating much waste. Owing to changing demand and technologies, textile and apparel product, which are among the basic necessities of people, can have harmful impact on the environment as well as humans during the production, usage and disposal stages. The share of environmentally friendly eco-textiles within international textile and apparel trade has been increasing so as to minimize hazardous effects. That’s why waste management is very important in textile and garment industry.


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  4. Waste Disposal Strategies in Textile Manufacturing
  5. Waste Management in Spinning Mill

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