Waste Management in Fashion and Textile Industry: 3R Concept, Zero Waste Concept, Current Trends & Circular Economy


Soma Parven

The textile and fashion industry is one of the most significant industrial sectors, which plays an important role in the national economy. Still, the textile and fashion industry is considered to be one of the most polluting industries. It is not limited to manufacturing but also generates textile waste. Bangladesh produced 1,000 tonnes of textile waste in 2021, says a global report. To combat this problem, the textile industry is taking many measures. One such measure is textile recycling. Textile recycling is beneficial for environmental and economic conditions. This article talks about waste management in the fashion and textile industries.  

Waste in Textile Industry

Textile waste is material that becomes useless or worthless after the manufacturing process of a textile product is completed. Waste occurs at every stage of the textile manufacturing process such as spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing, finishing and clothing. Textile waste is a major threat to any textile industry and the environment. That’s why it is necessary to reduce textile waste from industry.  

Types of Textile Waste

Textile waste can be classified 3 categories:

  1. Pre-consumer textile waste: The waste generated during the garment manufacturing process, including cutting room scraps, fabric selvedge and the leftover fabric is called pre-consumer waste.
  2. Post-consumer textile waste: The waste is generated from clothing and domestic textiles such as used clothing, towels, bed sheets, carpets, rugs, upholstery and other textile items.
  3. Industrial textile waste:  The waste produced from industrial applications such as filters, conveyor belts, geotextiles, fibers, etc.

Textile Waste Treatment Strategies: 3R Concept

The 3Rs concept is promoted on a worldwide scale for generating a sustainable material-cycle society through the efficient application of resources and materials.  The components of the 3R strategy –Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Reduce: Make less waste.  We should encourage consumers at present to make them aware of their purchases and that all purchases should be made considering their needs. So as to avoid the accumulation of unnecessary and unused items, which may not be considered as waste in the end.

Reuse: Utilization of product with same or different purpose. Reusing can have several aspects in the case of clothing and textiles. The first step is to repair damaged goods rather than convert them into waste. Using reusable things rather than disposable ones is also among the benefits of the 3Rs concept.

Recycle: Recycling is perhaps the most familiar concept in terms of textile and clothing sustainability. Textile waste can be recovered by recycling. Wastes can either be recycled for the same purpose as their first use or can be upcycled or downcycled. Upcycling waste is converted into high-value-added products with different uses than the original, whereas downcycling products converted into lower value added products. 

Zero Waste Concept: Sustainable Fashion Particle

Zero waste is a category within the broader discipline of sustainability. Zero waste is the upcoming future trend for renewable garments and textiles sources, it decreasing carbon secretions, guarding surroundings, and keeping a balanced environment. In this system no surplus material, energy and water is wasted, therefore reduces the amount of waste materials from production and transportation. It encourage the redesign of resource life cycle so that all products are reused. Indeed, it examines the entire life cycle of a product or material, highlighting inefficiencies and sustainable production and consumption practices. Zero waste is not only to keeping waste out of landfills, but also pushing our economy to be less wasteful in production and consumption.

Current Fashion Trends with Zero Waste Concept

Textile production involves substantial amounts of chemicals, water, energy and other natural resources. 2700L of water is required to produce a single cotton shirt. This shirt when abandoned, the resource is wasted, and takes over 200 years to decompose. New names in the industry are developing and practicing upcycling processes in a new way. The rise of this upcycled article of clothing supports zero-waste fashion. Currently, less than 1% of the fabric is made into new clothing 20% of textiles are re-processed, the rest goes to landfill or is destroyed.

In this Figure, an item is created, which is convertible. Crafted from recycled material with buttoned straps and drop shoulders at its front neckline. The neckties and buttons used are taken from men’s shirts. The center front panel is made of denim taken from old jeans.

In this Figure, the garment is made in upcycling process. It’s made from an old t-shirt, and jeans.

In this Figure, The garment has been upcycled using formal shirts from the male wardrobe and it includes all its elements, including color and material. It is designed for young and empowered working women who love to travel, and sustainable fashion.

The fashion industry has been making strides towards sustainability and the environment for years. All garments are designed using old, discarded fabrics. All clothing was upcycled and deconstructed to create something new. These are small steps we can take Leading us to more sustainable fashion in the coming days.

Circular Economy in the Textile and Apparel Industry:

An industrial economy aims to improve sustainability through invigorating items and design. CE is convalescing value from palpable merchandises through a thinner closed-loop of reuse and refurbishment, which could surge both pecuniary and ecological performance to reutilizing and energy recuperating.  In CE, the concept of waste can be decreased by restructuring the products, production processes, and supply chains to meet the incessant movement of resources in a closed loop. Closed-loop supply chains are value-adding strategies, controls, and system operations. Environmentally friendly and sustainable production is possible based on resource reuse and recycling.  The textile and apparel (T&A) industry is an important client goods business with a long supply chain. This the most adulterated industry in the world. For example, clothing manufacturing textile production requires large amounts of water and energy. This wastewater process has toxic chemical compounds that lead to serious damage by waste water, gas. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMAF) attempts to stimulate CE and various principles have been established to describe CE. The first principle is “designing out waste” which refers to the removal of waste. The second principle is “build resilience through diversity, flexibility in natural systems is established by acclimatizing to the environment differently”. The third is “depend on energy from renewable resources”. This reduces dependence on resources, reduces CO₂ impact and preserves system stability. The fourth principle is “think in systems.”  This involves contemplation of one part of the system with another and establishes the complete system. The last principle is “waste is food.” A distinction is made between consumable and durable components product, consumables may contain non-hazardous nutrients that can be recycled.


The main goal of ecological production is to adopt and implement certain strategies so as not to generate too much waste. If these strategies are not adopted then it can have harmful effects on the environment as well as the people. The share of eco-friendly eco-clothing in international textile and apparel trade is increasing to reduce hazardous impacts. So waste management is very important in textile and garment industry.