Comparative life cycle assessment of denim manufacturing: Evaluating conventional vs. recycled cotton in the context of renewable energy

Cundubey F. S., AZGIN Ş. T.

Journal of Cleaner Production, vol.434, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 434
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2023.140117
  • Journal Name: Journal of Cleaner Production
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, PASCAL, Aerospace Database, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, CAB Abstracts, Chimica, Communication Abstracts, Compendex, INSPEC, Metadex, Pollution Abstracts, Public Affairs Index, Veterinary Science Database, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: Denim production, LCA, Recycled cotton, Renewable energy, Sustainability
  • Erciyes University Affiliated: Yes


The environmental footprint of textile production, particularly in terms of cotton consumption, water usage, and energy, is a global concern. While the impact of cotton textiles has been extensively explored, research on denim fabric production, especially regarding the use of various renewable energy sources, remains limited. This study aims to address this gap by examining how increasing the content of sustainable material, like recycled cotton, and transitioning energy sources from conventional to renewable options, can positively impact the environment. We investigated various scenarios based on the blend of cotton (ranging from 100% conventional to 50% recycled) and the type of energy used (grid, solar, wind, biomass, and hydro). The environmental impacts of producing 1 m of denim fabric were assessed using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) across eleven critical categories. Our findings reveal that replacing conventional cotton with a 50% recycled blend, and grid energy with renewable sources, notably reduces environmental impacts. Specifically, Scenario S7 (50% recycled cotton, powered by the grid) showed an 18% decrease in Global Warming Potential (GWP), and 25% reductions in Eutrophication (EU) and Acidification (AC), along with a 15% decrease in Abiotic Depletion (fossil fuels). Switching to solar energy in Scenario S9 further enhanced these reductions. Among alternative renewable energies, hydropower (S12) was found to be the most effective, presenting the lowest environmental impacts in all categories. This study conclusively supports the hypothesis regarding the environmental benefits of renewable energy in textile production. Future research should investigate the combination of renewable energy with a broader range of sustainable materials, such as recycled polyester, tencel, and hemp, to further advance sustainable practices in the textile industry.