A recent study by some scholars of Bangladesh University of Textiles (BUTEX) titled “Textile-Apparel Manufacturing and Material Waste Management in the Circular Economy: A Conceptual Model to Achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 for Bangladesh” shows that the approximate value lost in the form of waste for every piece of apparel is 0.70 USD. Yes, it is 0.70 USD!
Bangladesh is the 2nd largest apparel sourcing hub in the world after China. And the textile and apparel industry is responsible for its 83% export earnings. This 147,570 km² small territory exported $35.57 billion of apparel in the year 2021.
With this big volume of apparel production, a big volume of waste is also generated as byproducts of the manufacturing processes. Cotton lint, damaged yarn, fly fiber, scrap yarn, greige, rejected colored fabric, excess finished fabric, unfinished fabric, unfinished cones, fabric cut pieces, excess apparel, etc. are the common wastes of the textile and apparel manufacturing processes.
“The research represents a novel approach to visualize materials waste in the textile-apparel production chain. It identified waste generation from every production stages representing in monetary terms to point out the value drained out in the process. Also, a circular economy-led model is proposed to re-encapsulate the lost value in the formal economy. This study can be a breakthrough for the industry thriving for achieving sustainable development goals- particularly towards responsible production and consumption.”
Maeen Md. Khairul Akter, the lead researcher and Assistant Professor of Dept. of Textile Engineering Management at Bangladesh University of Textiles recapitulated their research.
The searchers collected data from 17 renowned textiles and apparel factories of the country through semi-structured questionnaires, followed by value stream mapping (VSM) technique and observations. The study identified and analyzed waste materials of the industry and the monetary value lost in them, traced the post-production wastage and determined the scope of their utilization in the circular economy, and showed how SDG-12 can be achieved with a circular economy-led conceptual model in Bangladesh. Along with quantifying average material consumption, average material waste, and excess inventory, this study also interprets the information in economic terms to visualize and quantify value lost in the complete textiles apparel production chain.
“We estimated material waste generated from textile production chain in Bangladesh and quantified it to some extent. The most important thing as a researcher is to accurately quantify that value, but with 17 factory data we touched the tip of the iceberg. We worked with a very limited data and with secrecy about data, our analysis shows a big loss. How big? we are yet to discover.”
Dr. Mohammad Abbas Uddin, a fellow researcher and Head, Dept. of Dyes & Chemicals Engineering of Bangladesh University at Textiles shared with Textile Today about the research.
According to the Material, Stream Map developed based on the value stream mapping (VSM) technique, for the production of every 100kg of yarn, on average, 124.1kg of cotton fibre is consumed, 37.3kg of fibre is wasted, and 26kg of excess inventory is produced (26 kg more yarn is produced than to be delivered).
As a result, 177.24 USD is lost in wastage, and 72.8 USD remains as excess inventory for producing 100kg of yarn. The study also find that the material conversion rate of yarn production is 89% which means only 89kg of yarn is produced from 100 kg of raw cotton. And, this spinning process is responsible for increasing the value of raw materials by 21% only.
“At present, manufacturers try to hide the waste generated in the textile-apparel production chain. It is high time for all stakeholders to think about the dollar loss due to this concealed waste and the informal trading of waste in the underground market. The conceptual waste management model developed by the authors will shed light on the scope of moving towards circular fashion and circular economy as well,” Upama Nasrin Haq, Assistant Professor of Dept. of Apparel Engineering at Bangladesh University of Textiles said about the waste hiding tendency of the manufacturers.
|Table: Material and Value Loss in Textile-Apparel Production Chain (Per 100kg of End Product).|
|Process||Lost materials||Material loss (kg)||Value loss ($)|
|Yarn, Greige fabric||10||30|
|Apparel Production||Finished Fabric,
For fabric manufacturing, to produce every 100kg of fabric, on average, 110.4kg of yarn is consumed. 37.3kg of yarn is wasted in the form of yarn leftovers and faulty fabrics, and 2.5kg of excess inventory is produced. As a result, a total of 30 USD is lost in this process to produce 100kg of fabric. 22.5 USD out of this 30 USD is excess inventory, which perhaps is sold to the local market. The material conversion rate for this process is 81% which means only 81kg of fabric is produced from 100 kg of yarn. And, in this process, the value addition is negative considering the amount of excess inventory that it is -5%.
In wet processing, to produce every 100kg of finished fabric, on average, 124.4kg of greige fabric is consumed, 18.8kg of fabric is wasted due to uneven dyeing and GSM issues, and 14.8kg of excess inventory is produced. As a result, 159.6 USD is lost during the processing of 100kg of fabrics. Among them 69.85 USD worth of over-processed fabric (excess inventory), and 89.74 USD worth of finished fabric waste which is sold in the local market at a cheaper rate, or reused for smaller apparel orders where possible. The material conversion rate for this process is 91% which means only 91kg of the finished fabric is produced from 100 kg of greige fabric. And, in this process, the value of the greige fabric is increased by 64% after it becomes a finished one.
In apparel manufacturing, to produce every 100kg of finished fabric, on average, 161.3kg of the finished fabric is consumed, 11.8kg of fabric is wasted as cut waste and apparel residues, and 7.7kg of excess inventory is produced. As a result, the total value lost for every 100kg of apparel is approximately 68 USD, of which losses due to excess inventory are 27 USD, and for cut-fabric waste and rejected apparel is 41 USD. The material conversion rate for this process is 80% which means only 80kg of apparel is produced from 100 kg of the finished fabric. And, in this process, the value of the finished fabric is increased by 126% after it is turned into apparel.
“Most importantly in this research along with the reject and cut pieces, we also considered excess production and excess sourcing as a loss, since these are purchased to export in real value but used in low valued local production. Our model of circularity encourages everyone to come up with real data anonymously to assist the government to achieve SDG 12 in real sense. It will be win-win for everyone. Increment of value generated and Reduction of material loss,” Dr. Mohammad Abbas Uddin also said.
These subsequent wastages in various stages of the apparel manufacturing process ultimately cause a loss of 70 cents for a single piece of apparel.
Mazed Islam, a Commonwealth PhD Scholar and Researcher in sustainable practices and circular economy in the fashion and textiles at the University of Manchester, UK, and a Co-Author of the research article said, “This research reveals promising insights for the textiles and apparel business stakeholders regarding materials waste management in the circular economy. Therefore, we encourage stakeholders, especially the manufacturers, brands, government, to follow our approaches (e.g., material stream mapping, waste qualification, economic value determination, waste stewardship) fostered by effective waste management governance, collaborations, and traceability to get the strategic benefits and embrace the circular economy.”
The researchers finally addressed that the textiles and apparel industry needs financial and technical support from the key stakeholders, like brands, government, trade organizations, and others, to establish a materials waste baseline throughout the supply chain to effectively manage them in the circular economy model and achieve SDG 12. Support is also needed to establish an informal economy and recycle/reuse business on a legitimate basis.