Ensuring cradle-to-cradle textiles’ circularity
Improving post-consumer’s product return to close the loop
Sensing the System
The textile industry has a significant impact on the environment due to its production and over-consumption, making it one of the most polluting industries. Some textile labels have started their journey toward circular business models by switching to cradle-to-cradle certified products. These products are part of a closed-loop system, meaning that the materials can be either biodegraded or remanufactured. However, producing and selling cradle-to-cradle products does not achieve circularity if the products are not returned by the consumers to be industrially composted or remanufactured. If a cradle-to-cradle product is landfilled or incinerated, like the wast majority of discarded textiles, all the time and money invested to reach the cradle-to-cradle certification becomes pointless.
My role was to identify the barriers preventing companies from collecting post-consumer cradle-to-cradle certified textile products. The research methodology began with a literature review, in-store observations, and salespeople interviews. Furthermore, expert interviews were carried out, and qualitative data were collected in eight semi-structured interviews with Swiss consumers to gain an understanding of their textile disposal behavior.
The research findings revealed a lack of brands’ commitment to communicating the take-back system to their customers combined with a lack of intrinsic motivators and the inconvenience of products’ return for consumers. Given these issues, a design intervention aiming to improve the situation was developed and tested with various stakeholders.
By forming a network of drop-off locations and digitalizing the take-back system with a mobile application, the proposed concept aims to motivate consumers to return the products and facilitate reverse logistics for the companies. In addition to the app, companies would be offered a training service for their in-store personnel to teach them how to communicate the take-back system efficiently to the customers.
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