cotton, polyesters, carbon footprint, Carbon footprint, Life cycle, consumer information, climate change, cotton fabric, international trade, greenhouse gas emissions, coal, carbon, raw materials, electricity, woolen fabric, humans, Greenhouse gas, models, Textile fabrics, color, Industrial processes, greenhouse gases, energy, business enterprises, and steam
Carbon Footprint (CFP) can clearly reflect the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the whole-life cycle of certain human activities. The assessment of CFP is an important tool and a basis for managing and controlling greenhouse gas emissions. At the product level, the CFP and carbon label could contribute to the low-carbon consumption mode by providing more carbon information for consumers, thus playing an important role in impelling society towards a low-carbon mode. China is the largest textile and garment producer and consumer, in the world. Studies on the CFP of textiles are important in the management of domestic greenhouse gas emissions, and in communicating carbon information and carrying out relevant negotiations in international trade. This study selected two types of typical Chinese textiles: wool fabrics and cotton fabrics. Wool fabrics include pure wool fabric and blended woolâ��polyester fabric; cotton fabrics include 11 kinds of fabrics: yarn-dyed fabric in pure cotton and polyester cotton, bleached fabric made by a plain weave process and a rib process, dyed fabric in pure cotton and polyesterâ��cotton in dark, medium, and light colors, and gray fabric. The production procedures and relevant production data for typical enterprises were meticulously investigated and collected. The system boundaries, relevant methods, and assessment models of each textile industrial CFP were established. Subsequently, based on the calculation of China's CFP coefficients of energy and materials, the study assessed the CFPs of these textile fabric products. A comparative analysis of the results of different types of fabric show the industrial CFP of wool fabrics is almost three times that of cotton fabrics. The industrial CFPs per unit product in descending order are: pure wool fabrics, blended wool-polyester fabrics, and cotton fabrics; the average industrial carbon footprint of each being 14.07kgCO2e/kg, 13.55kgCO2e/kg, and 5.34kgCO2e/kg, respectively. The critical factors influencing the industrial CFP of cotton fabrics are the types of fabric used and the corresponding production processes. The industrial CFP of yarn-dyed fabric is higher than that of dyed fabric, by 70.8%, on average, and the industrial carbon footprint of fabric made by the plain weave process is higher than fabric made by the rib process, by 76.2%. In addition, different raw materials, textile technologies, and dye colors used resulted in CFP differences. Indirect industrial CFP, the major source of which is consumption of electricity, contributes about 87% of the total industrial CFP, while direct industrial carbon footprint only contributes about 13%. The consumption of energy, for instance electricity, steam, and coal, is the main source of industrial CFP. The study results imply that the key approaches for reducing the CFP of textiles are to enhance energy management, especially in the use of electricity, and to improve the output efficiency of production. As regards the consumers, choosing light colored cotton textiles leads to less CFP and climate change impacts.