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Rent or Buy? A Comparative LCA of Reusable vs. Disposable Textile Products


Agenda

1. Project Summary 2. LCA results 3. Conclusions

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Project Summary


Project Goal Compare reusable vs. disposable textiles Isolation Gown

Wiper (Shop Towel)

Premium Napkin

Study commissioned by Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA)

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Scope System Boundary

Cradle-to-Grave assessment – production, transport, use, and disposal

Lacking industry data on the prevalence of one product or another, we evaluated best, mid, and worst case scenarios for both reusables and disposables.

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• • • • • • •

Delivery distance & utilization Product weight Manufacturing energy Number of uses Washing energy Recycled content High or low impact pulp & papermaking

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Scope Functional Unit of 100 Use Cases Disposables

Reusables n uses before replacement Manufacturing

Customer Use Event

Laundry

Landfill

n uses before replacement Manufacturing

Customer Use Event

Laundry

Landfill

n uses before replacement Manufacturing

Customer Use Event

Laundry

Landfill

Manufacturing Manufacturing Manufacturing Manufacturing Manufacturing Customer Use Event Use Customer Event Use Customer Event Use Customer Event Use Customer Event Landfill Landfill Landfill Landfill Landfill

‌ until 100 uses have been provided

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Scope Reference Flows Affected by the range of product weights and number of uses Reusable Isolation Gowns’ number of uses range from 49 (worst case) to 64 (median) to 98 (best case).

Reusable

Reusable Napkins’ number of uses range from 19 (worst case) to 49 (median) to 89 (best case).

Isolation Gown

Shop Towel

Napkin

1.02 – 2.04 PET gowns, [0.313 - 0.739 kg]

8.33 recycled cotton towels [0.227 – 0.265 kg]

1.12 - 5.17 PET napkins [0.036 – 0.263 kg]

100 pulp & PET towels [0.98 kg]

100 premium paper napkins [0.57 – 2.35 kg]

Disposable 100 PP gowns [14.5 kg – 22.2 kg]

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Reusable Shop Towels last approximately 12 uses.

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Data Collection Reusables n uses

Manufacturing

Customer Use Event

Product Composition Gown – PET fiber Wiper – Recycled cotton Napkin – PET fiber

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Laundry

Manufacturing Literature & primary data • Energy • Water • Waste

Landfill

Number of uses* Gown – 64 times Wiper – 12 times Napkin – 49 times * Median number of uses

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Data Collection Reusables n uses

Manufacturing

Customer Use Event

Transport 110 mile delivery route for wipers 70 mile route for gowns and napkins

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Laundry

Landfill

Laundry Survey of 70 TRSA laundry sites as part of Clean Green certification • Energy • Water • Emissions

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Data Collection Disposables

Manufacturing

Customer Use Event

Landfill

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Product Composition Gown – PP fiber Wiper – Pulp & PET fiber Napkin – Pulp Manufacturing Literature & primary data • Energy • Water • Waste Transport Assumed delivery of 100 miles (best case) or 250 miles (worst case) 10


LCA results


Life Cycle Impact Assessment Impact category selection TRACI 2.1 Impact Categories: − Acidification Potential (AP)

[kg SO2 eq];

− Eutrophication Potential (EP)

[kg N eq];

− Global Warming Potential (GWP)

[kg CO2 eq];

− Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP)

[kg CFC 11 eq];

− Smog Creation Potential (Smog)

[kg O3 eq];

Environmental Indicator: − Primary Energy Demand (PED)

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[MJ lower heating value]

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Life Cycle Impact Assessment Example results chart Worst Best Worst Mid-High Mid-Low Best

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Life Cycle Impact Assessment Isolation gown results

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Life Cycle Impact Assessment Isolation gown results

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Life Cycle Impact Assessment Wiper results

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Life Cycle Impact Assessment Wiper results

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Life Cycle Impact Assessment Napkin results

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Life Cycle Impact Assessment Napkin results

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Conclusions


Conclusions Reusables’ impacts are dominated by use phase washing and, to a limited extent, by raw materials.

Reusable isolation gowns have lower impact than disposables in every impact considered, except ODP. Reusable wipers have lower impact than disposables in every impact considered, except EP.

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Disposables’ impacts are driven by raw materials, followed by manufacturing energy.

For napkins, there is no clear superiority of reusables over disposables – the best and worst case scenarios overlap each other.

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Recommendations to TRSA • Improvements should focus on raw materials and washing energy demand

• Sourcing low-energy or recycled materials is especially important for products made from paper

• Significant improvements can be made through reducing washing energy demand

• Transportation is only a minor contributor across all scenarios

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Questions?

John Jewell – j.jewell@pe-international.com Ken Koepper – kkoepper@trsa.org


Normalization Impacts of worst case disposable gown divided by US per-capita emissions ODP emissions are much smaller (~10 -8 range) so are less relevant

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Sensitivity analysis – Disposable napkin scenarios Isolating the effects of changing delivery distance & utilization, product weight, recycled content, and high or low impact paper

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Sensitivity analysis – Reusable napkin scenarios Isolating the effects of changing delivery distance & utilization, product weight, number of uses, manufacturing energy, and washing scenarios

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Presentation rent or buy  

A Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Reusable vs. Disposable Textile Products

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