RESEARCH POINT – Design for disassembly

1 – Determine the sustainability or otherwise of 2 different textile fibres.
2 – What is meant by “Design for disassembly”?
3 – Consider the environmental impacts of combining different fibres.

1 – Determine the sustainability of two different fabrics
Lyocell is a fabric better known by its brand name Tencel®.
Tencel Lyocell is an eco textile made from pulped Eucalyptus wood and it is the most environmentally friendly man-made cellulosic fibre available today. The fibre is produced using a Lyocell process in a similar way as other semi-synthetic natural fibres, such as Viscose bamboo fabric, but the Lyocell process used to make Eucalyptus Tencel is more benign and eco-friendly. As Lyocell is a cellulosic fibre it is therefore biodegradable, degrading completely in just eight days in waste treatment plants.
The wood is chipped and pulped, broken down to a cellulose solution which is then forced through spinnerets. The resulting long stringy fibres are then dried and spun up into a soft, lightweight and breathable fabric called Tencel. It’s derived from 100% FSC certified Eucalyptus trees and the fibre carries the Pan-European Forest Council (PEFC) quality seal.
Thinking about sustainability and environmental issues, the only chemical used in processing is amine oxide, used to digest the wood pulp and is non-toxic.The closed loop processing allows up to 99% of the chemical to be recovered and recycled therefore minimising the impact on the environment and conserving energy and water. Any waste products that are present in the air and water from the manufacturing process are minimal and considered harmless according to the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet)
As well as its eco-friendly manufacturing techniques the fabric is known for its outstanding physical characteristics – strength, durability, soft, excellent moisture absorbency, breathable, and is naturally hygienic as it inhibits the growth of bacteria.
In terms of clothing, Lyocell is available in different finishes ranging from a denim type material, a suede look (moleskin or peach skin) and can also be made to look like wool, cotton, rayon or poly/silk blends.
Hemp is an environmentally positive and versatile crop. It is natural, renewable, sustainable and eco-friendly. It is a highly productive, easy to cultivate, drought resistant and can be grown in most climates. Hemp is incredibly robust and some varieties are very hardy and able to thrive even in saline and heavily degraded soils. Hemp needs no pesticides because it is unpalatable to insects and it needs no herbicides because it grows so quickly and close together therefore preventing weeds from growing in the crop. Furthermore whilst growing it enriches the soil with its deep roots.
Textiles can be processed from the fibrous stalks easily and with little energy, little water and without requiring the use of toxic chemicals. And because it does not require high technology it is ideal to be processed locally therefore increasing local employment and saving transport costs and helping to reduce pollution. Hemp fibres taken from hemp plants are as long as the plant itself, sometimes 15 to 20 long making them long and strong when they are woven into textiles. In comparison to cotton Hemp produces three times as much fibre. Recent breakthroughs in fabric technology have improved the quality of Hemp cloth so it is no longer a rough, unyielding fabric but now softer and more versatile. Hemp fabrics have the look and feel of linen, without the care problems and hemp fibre has 3 times more tensile strength.
As well as being a sustainable textile the potential for Hemp is vast – including sustainable bio-mass (power) and bio-diesel (fuel). It can also be used in the building trade as Hemp can be made into Plaster Board. Hemp can also be used for insulation and can be made into concrete, Hempcrete
It’s these characteristics that make it a great candidate to replace pesticide and herbicide dependent and environmentally destructed crops such as cotton. Fortunately its sustainability qualities are being recognised but the shift from traditional crops such as cotton is slow but ultimately would ease the pressure on the world’s raw materials and therefore having huge environmental benefits.
2 – What is Design for Disassembly?
Quote as follows….
“Design for Disassembly (DfD) is a design strategy that considers the future need to disassemble a product for repair, refurbish or recycle.
• Will a product need to be repaired?
• Which parts will need replacement?
• Who will repair it?
• How can the experience be simple and intuitive?
• Can the product be reclaimed, refurbished, and resold?
• If it must be discarded, how can we facilitate its disassembly into easily recyclable components?
By responding to questions like these, the DfD method increases the effectiveness of a product both during and after its life.
Where did Design for Disassembly come from?
Our ancient tools, meticulously crafted from natural materials and intended for repair and reuse, are perhaps the earliest example of DfD. During the 1950′s rise of consumerism, fueled by mass production methods, cheap labor, and design fashion, disposability became the norm. Over time, the waste created by planned obsolescence and a throw-away culture was exposed. Organizations studied the negative impacts of toxins found in our product waste and governments began to regulate. In 2004, the European Union passed the landmark WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive, placing the responsibility of disposing electronic products with their manufacturers. This tectonic shift was recognized as a sign of things to come by global manufacturers, driving interest in the DfD strategy”
Source –
In simple terms and relating to textiles I believe it means we should design with recycling and reuse as a consideration to keep the environmental impact to the minimum. This includes how clothes are constructed to allow for easy de-construction and recycling of fibres.
3– Consider the environmental implications of combining different fibres.
I have been thinking this one over for a few days trying to think of my response – initially I was thinking the implications were negative and then thought perhaps there might be some positive ones too. And I’m still not sure I have the answer as this is an issue being considered on a global scale and perhaps we don’t know the true implications as yet. I know that some fabrics breakdown quicker than others, Nylon for example takes 30 to 40 years to decompose and some other man-made fibres never decompose at all when in landfill but natural ones do. So when such fibres go to landfill, rather than being recycled or processed through recycling, these will remain in landfill contributing to the buildup of methane gas which we know has environmental implications. By combining fibres, that is man made with natural, I would imagine makes the task of recycling more complex as the fibres can’t be separated easily. Therefore, it may be that the financial cost of separating them becomes prohibitive and the only option then is to throw them away at the end of their useful life. I think it may be possible to combine fibres but perhaps not synthetic and natural, keep organic fibres and manmade separate so they both become eco-friendly, one decomposes at the end of its useful life and the other is locked into a continuous loop of recycling. However, I know this is unlikely to ever happen.

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