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Waste Flow Analysis

More than 2 days

Individual / Group / Discussion

Collect / Comprehend / Create


Textile waste in the fashion, clothing and textile industries has been identified as one of the great challenges faced today. On average, in a traditional production process, over 18% of textile is discarded, adding considerably to the resource waste in the textile industry chain. However, a series of design strategies may enable a lower waste production at the end of the production stage. In this activity, students will collect information on production processes, map waste flows and create design proposals directly with a company, that help in waste reduction, support transition towards a circular business model and improve economic performance.

How can design contribute to reduce waste within production?

Links to Pillar(s)

Cultural - Economic - Environmental - Social



In groups of 4-5 students spend one week in a clothing factory and map the production process with the waste flows in mind. To do so, they will make use of policy documents that discuss textile waste management (e.g. Circular Economy Action Plan). Each group focuses on one part of the process (e.g. cutting, packing, sewing, etc.). They take notes on the different actors and practices that are involved in the process and on the quality and quantity of waste produced. At the end of the week, students produce a single report where all the processes are illustrated and a waste flow chart is created.


Having the waste flow chart in mind, students are invited to identify one type of waste (e.g. cutting leftovers, fabric roll ends, etc.) and propose upcycling design solutions and proposals within the course of one week on how to reduce waste. The main aim of the activity is to circulate material waste back to the industry within its own environment and promote industrial symbiosis.


The design prototypes are shared with industry representatives and evaluated in regard to their commercial and production viability.

This Activity Links To
  • Take contact to and make appointments with companies

  • Waste mapping sample excel sheets 

  • Access to factory machinery

  • Visual overviews of waste flow charts

  • Proposals how to reduce waste within the production through design

  • Proposals for possible industrial symbiosis at the local level

Suggested Readings

Valle-Noronha, J. & Aus, R. (2020) Upcycling Aruna: Experiencing design-led sustainability via situated learning. In Bertola, Paola (ed.) Fashioning Social Innovation. Design empowering communities to foster sustainability in culture intensive industries. Milano: Mandragora.

Niinimäki, K. (ed.) (2018) Sustainable Fashion in a Circular Economy. Espoo: Aalto ARTS Books

Kilmi, J. & Laberenz, L. (2015). ”Out of Fashion” ( (Discussion based on film)

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