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Comparative Gate-to-Gate Life Cycle Assessment for the Alkali and Acid Pre-Treatment Step in the Chemical Recycling of Waste Cotton

Institute for Frontier Materials, Deakin University, 75 Pigdons Road, Waurn Ponds VIC 3216, Australia
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Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8613; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208613
Received: 17 September 2020 / Revised: 1 October 2020 / Accepted: 14 October 2020 / Published: 17 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment in Materials Engineering and Sustainability)
The development of textile recycling solutions is an area of intense research and commercialization. Chemical recycling solutions are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to separate complex blends and retain or improve the value of the original fiber. The chemical recycling of cotton requires a pre-treatment step to reduce the degree of polymerization (DP). The DP can be reduced in a variety of ways, and here, the environmental footprints of two different pre-treatment approaches are examined using life cycle assessment (LCA); sodium hydroxide pre-treatment and sulphuric acid pre-treatment. We find that the acid pre-treatment has a significantly lower environmental footprint across all impact categories calculated. This is attributed to the lower treatment times required and the lower material and energy requirements for the manufacture of chemicals. The results were normalized to show the most significant impact categories for each pre-treatment, and further environmental implications of the pre-treatments are discussed. The findings will aid academia and industry in implementing the most environmentally benign processes in chemical cotton recycling. View Full-Text
Keywords: comparative life-cycle assessment; green chemistry; textile waste; cellulose pre-treatment; textile dyes comparative life-cycle assessment; green chemistry; textile waste; cellulose pre-treatment; textile dyes
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Rosson, L.; Byrne, N. Comparative Gate-to-Gate Life Cycle Assessment for the Alkali and Acid Pre-Treatment Step in the Chemical Recycling of Waste Cotton. Sustainability 2020, 12, 8613.

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