Screening Life Cycle Assessment of Textiles Retailed in South Africa




Problem Statement:

To provide Woolworths with a better understanding of the environmental impacts of textiles, particularly with respect to where in the life cycle impacts are highest, and how these differ for different raw material options.

The Green House approach:

A high-level life cycle comparison was recommended to provide the necessary insights at a relatively low budget. Three broadly different fibre types – cotton fibres, polyester fibres and cellulosic fibres (viscose) – were chosen to span the mix of natural and synthetic fibres, whilst cellulosic viscose was included because of the interest in bamboo as a sustainable resource. The study was a screening LCA in that it relied primarily on life cycle databases to model the impacts of manufacturing textiles, although study-specific information was included where required by the South African context, most notably around the consumer use of textile products.


The deliverables of the study was an accessible study report, together with a presentation to the Woolworths and WWF team. The outcomes of the study was used to support Woolworths development of a range of jeans using recycled PET content: