Final Report: Proposed Process for Management of Textile Waste from Redesigned Secondhand Clothing Production in Haiti: No-Waste, Recycling and Repurposing

EPA Grant Number: SU835507
Title: Proposed Process for Management of Textile Waste from Redesigned Secondhand Clothing Production in Haiti: No-Waste, Recycling and Repurposing
Investigators: Lewis, Tasha , Netravali, Anil , Levitt, Ariana , Trejo, Helen , Park, Huiju , Su, Jianan , Sanchez, Vanessa
Institution: Cornell University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2013 through August 14, 2014
Project Amount: $11,923
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , P3 Awards , Sustainability


This project concentrated on learning to create an effective sustainable no-waste, repurposing apparel design and production process for secondhand clothing (SHC) businesses in Haiti. The challenge for our project is to prevent the generation of leftover textile waste as a result of our industry partner’s (Local Buttons) apparel production process. We adopt a cradle-to-cradle approach with a focus on the waste=food proposition, or cyclical reclaiming of materials, in production (McDonough & Braungart, 2002). Therefore we consider solutions such as no-waste pattern design techniques, recycling textile waste for use in accessories, downcycling of textile waste into building materials/construction, and repurposing of textile waste by local artisans. Our findings will be shared with our industry partner, Local Buttons, and its production partners in Haiti for implementation.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

We have effectively documented the rate of waste reduction resulting from our process and by using a single prototype size, we were able to create four new garments from eleven different secondhand garments. We can exponentially increase our uptake of waste with the production of more garments in more sizes. We have developed patterns for the full size range (XS-XL) of these new garments and expect to monitor and record their production in Haiti and the larger impact on waste reduction (Phase II).

Textile waste generated during the production of the prototypes was classified by style number and weighed to obtain a post-production for comparison with the pre-production SHC garment weight. Fiber content on care labels was verified with fiber analysis in our fiber science lab. Blended fabrics were the most common type and waste was therefore not biodegradable due to the hybrid nature of the fibers (natural and synthetic content).The team has developed recycled solutions for this blended textile waste that can be used in apparel accessories that complement Local Buttons current product line. These items include small coin purses, ID cases, and fabric buttons. These products will further support Haitian local artisans in their creation of ReFashioned accessories.


With our specific outputs we aimed to improve human health and well-being by considering the impact of our process on factory employees and the larger community of people in Haiti reliant on apparel production as a large part of the economy. By partnering with a sustainable business and sharing our knowledge and expertise, we also hope to advance the economic competitiveness of Haiti and similar developing nations with a novel business model and process. Finally, we focused on the enormous potential of PCTW as a raw material in order to protect and preserve the environment through minimizing the generation of textile waste in a developing economy with little resources to manage unused clothing. Our findings reveal both quantitative and qualitative benefits for people, prosperity, and the planet.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 2 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

 Closed-loop recycling, global considerations, sustainable manufacturing