All united for textiles!

Enhancing the value of Quebec's textile industry

According to 2008 data, nearly 180,000 tonnes of residential textiles are rejected each year by Quebec households, or 24 kg per capita. The quantities generated by Quebec's industrial sector are unknown, but would exceed 15,000 tonnes per year. In developed countries, the quantity of textiles purchased and then rejected has tended to increase since the advent in the 1980s of fast fashion - current low quality, low cost clothing.

Currently, less than 40% of Quebec's residential textiles would be recovered. Re-use, through charities and second-hand stores, would be the main outlet. However, even when textiles are sent to these front-line organizations, unsold or "unloved" items are for the most part sent for disposal, even though the fibres are still in good condition.

Combining expertise to multiply solutions tenfold

Claudia Vézeau, graduate in industrial design and Julien Beaulieu, research engineer at CTTÉI.

At the initiative of Éthik BGC, an organization promoting ethical fashion, researchers from the Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en opérationnalisation du développement durable (CIRODD) were asked to propose solutions to this waste of resources.

The first phase of this project aims to compile existing information on the material flows involved (location, source, etc.), their properties (nature of the fibres), the current players and their activities (manufacturers, generators, importers, recyclers, etc.). Researchers are receiving a grant from CIRODD for this preliminary stage. The Université de Montréal's Faculté de l'aménagement is contributing to the project by hiring Claudia Vézeau, a Master's graduate in industrial design, for the summer to collect information, survey the various stakeholders and compile the results.

The overall objective of the project is to conduct an interdisciplinary study, in collaboration with the various players in the sector, in order to identify profitable and innovative recovery scenarios for all Quebec textile residues. Led by Professor Sylvain Plouffe of the Université de Montréal and Julien Beaulieu, a researcher at the Centre de transfert technologique en écologie industrielle (CTTÉI), this study will integrate the principles, strategies, business models and tools of the circular economy. Several other researchers from other institutions will be called upon to collaborate, including those from the Institut EDDEC, Polytechnique Montréal, HEC Montréal, Vestechpro, Groupe CTT and Optech.

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