Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design

Department

Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design

First Advisor

Jessica Strübel

Abstract

The fashion industry is cited as a major contributor to global pollution. The urgent need for a reversal of climate change has led the textile and apparel industry to assess what opportunities exist to convert to greener, less damaging solutions. The recycling of existing textiles and textile waste into yarns and fabrics would reduce the need for raw materials as well as divert millions of tons of textile waste from landfill. Just as these advancements are being made and consumers are beginning to invest in more responsible textile products, the COVID-19 pandemic occurs, and global markets come to a halt. Shoppers continue to express interest in sustainable fashion, but is the textile recycling industry equipped and able to move forward?

The goal of this research is to assess the textile recycling industry in the United States amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Nine such organizations and their pandemic experiences are investigated using a case study approach. Each business responded to a survey which was then coded using thematic analysis and content analysis. The resulting data was examined through the lens of a COVID-19 pandemic-based conceptual framework, the Enterprise Effectiveness and Sustainability Model. The study found that company structure, company culture, supply chain, leadership, virtuality, and finances were all important variables in organizational resilience during the pandemic. Results show that domestic textile recycling organizations suffered the greatest impacts through their supply chain, decreased internal productivity, and financial hardship caused by lessened demand and workforce availability.

Available for download on Monday, October 25, 2021

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