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Title: An evaluation of the potential for wider use of recycled synthetic materials in the UK High Street clothing markets : its drivers and barriers
Author: Nakano, Yukie
ISNI:       0000 0004 2707 0922
Awarding Body: Northumbria University
Current Institution: Northumbria University
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis focuses on the potential to expand the markets for recycled synthetic materials, specifically focusing on the uptake of polyester recycling technologies and materials from the perspective of UK high street clothing retailers and Japanese recycled polyester textile manufacturers. Historically, textile waste or 'shoddy' has been 'downcycled' and used in products such as blankets, rugs or wipers. During the 1990s technological developments enabled the production of thinner and longer fibres from recycled polyester for clothing, particularly in outdoor wear, sportswear and uniforms. Advances in chemical recycling systems which return the fibre to its original raw materials state have led to the production of fibres of a quality equal to those produced from virgin material. Polyester is currently the only viable material which can be 'upcycled' and used in 'closed loop recycling systems'. This research investigated the barriers and drivers affecting the adoption of recycled polyester in high street clothing markets, from the perspectives of UK high street clothing retailers, UK consumers, and world leading Japanese recycled polyester textile manufacturers. The study is exploratory in nature, and comprises a literature review, a street survey and industry surveys. The literature review was carried out in order to understand current thinking in the areas of sustainable fashion and technological development, particularly with regards to the production of recycled polyester. A street survey conducted in Newcastle gathered information from the general public in order to evaluate consumer attitudes towards clothes with recycled content, what affects their purchasing decisions when buying clothes, and their awareness of recycled clothing products in the market. The industry surveys were adopted to examine the views of five major recycled polyester fibre and fabric manufacturers in Japan and evaluate their perspectives on the potential for recycled polyester outside their current niche markets. Four major UK high street clothing retailers were interviewed in order to gain insights into their current practices for product development (in particular the materials selection process), to evaluate the level of environmental consideration they have when they develop products, and to test their readiness to use recycled materials. The findings are derived from previously unscrutinised barriers and drivers for the wider use of recycled synthetic materials in high street clothing retailers. Two key factors are identified: Japanese manufacturers need to create 'closed loop' recyclable synthetic fabrics that have excellent tactile and design qualities to appeal to the teams that source fabrics for clothing development. Clothing retailers need torecognise that it is possible to specify 'closed loop' fabrics but they need to connect this to clear design, business and sustainable development strategies. The contribution of this thesis based on the findings shows the potential to extend the recycled polyester market, based on advanced technology and socioeconomical issues, the outlook of recycled textile producers, and public opinion towards clothes with recycled content. The key recommendation concerns the need to establish a long term commitment between clothing retailers and recycled fabric producers in order to develop desirable recycled fabrics for general and fashion markets. Further research is suggested on this basis.
Supervisor: Young, Robert Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: W200 Design studies