Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Cotton and Other Natural Fibers for Textile Applications
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionFibers. 2019, 7 (12), . 10.3390/fib7120101
Among natural fibers, such as cotton, silk, wool, flax, hemp, etc., cotton is the one that takes up the highest percentage in the textile market. Nevertheless, there are obstacles associated with its cultivation; it is restricted to sub-tropical climates, and it is dependent upon high amounts of water, as well as the use of agrochemicals to ensure good yields. The use of pesticides and other types of chemical products give a negative impact on the environment. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is used in the present study in order to evaluate the environmental impacts of cotton cultivation and fibers production for textiles. Comparisons among traditional and organic cropping have been carried out. Further comparisons are described with other natural fibers, such as jute, hemp and kenaf, in order to identify the strong and weak points of each product. Weak (e.g., lack of supply, transportation and storage of biomass, infancy of the value chain, lack of production/distribution chains, etc.) and strong aspects (e.g., market potential, rural development, environmental benefits, etc.) are considered for the production of each type of fiber.