Environmental sustainability of e-textile products approached by makers and manufacturers

As electronics combined with textiles (e-textiles) move from the maker into production and the mass-market, questions concerning disposal and waste increasingly arise. Moreover, without standardization, it is hard to manage the potential waste streams emerging after the product’s life-cycle. The only guidelines for creating standards is Technical Report 16298 (2011) [1] by the European Committee of Standardization. This paper reports on two e-textile cases from the WEAR Sustain framework. The projects were developed collaboratively by makers, researchers and industry partners to shed light on issues of sustainability surrounding e-textiles. The first, Closed Loop Smart Athleisure Fashion (CLSAF), measures the wearer’s vital signs via printed and laminated sensors and focuses on the interactive fashion loop. It embraces the complexity that industrial settings tend to eliminate in products and processes. To keep stakeholders on board, it proposes a lease-service-system to replace conventional linear business models. The second, BETALight, is a wearable light space project that analyses the process from prototyping e-textile products through to industrial production. This project explores materials and processes in electronics and textiles at the level of component details. With industrial partners, the project tests and considers different production and recycling methods, and the best available materials and methods. These two studies tackle a major issue in the manufacturing of e-textiles. It aims to provide a way of considering and evaluating the environmental impact of e-textiles based on collaborative practice. [1] "Technical Reports ", E. C. o. Standardization, Ed., ed: European Committee of Standardization, 2011.