The Warp and Woof of e-textile Disposal

A new form of ecological disaster has come in the garb of e-textiles. It is an undisputed fact that wearable technology helps us interact in a convenient and unobtrusive way, but problems arise when the disposal of e-textiles crops up. Smart clothing (e-textiles) accounts for 1 million tons of additional electronic waste per year, according to a study. Though clothes can be passed along or handed down, electronic textiles, wherein electronic devices are attached, aren’t so easily disposed of. The sad fact is that we are not prepared enough for the deluge of devices almost certain to follow.

Will Wearable Technology Intensify Our E-Waste Problem 2

Because the electronic components are small and strewn among reams of fabric, they’re not only difficult to recover, but contaminate traditional textile recycling. The absence of legislation regarding the disposal of e-textiles aggravates the issue.

Contemporary electronic products usually have rather short service lives. There is no reason to assume that e-textiles will break with that trend.

Will Wearable Technology Intensify Our E-Waste Problem 1

Further, their obsolescence may even be accelerated due to quickly-changing fashion trends in the textile sector. One can expect that old e-textiles will cause large waste streams similar to today’s e-waste.

Although guidelines for wearable technology are nearly nonexistent, designers should closely scrutinize their products’ life cycle.

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