Textile millers should adopt new technologies limiting the wastage of water

Akhi Akter       
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‘Water’ means ‘life’, as life of human being depends on having access to water. This water is being continuously polluted by various industries including Textile & Clothing (T&C) industry, which is one of the most important and rapidly developing industrial sectors in developing country. The sector is filling one of the basic needs of human being by providing clothing but at the same time, it is killing human being by polluting water as the T&C industry uses vast quantities of water throughout all processing operations.

technologies limiting the wastage of water
Figure 1: Textile millers should adopt new technologies limiting the wastage of water

A few years ago GlobeScan, a global survey research firm conducted a comprehensive global public opinion survey which finds that people around the world view water issues as the planet’s top environmental problem, greater than others. World leaders are concerned about environmental pollution issues including water pollution and they are working together for a better world, which will develop its industry in a sustainable manner. In this regard, In September 2015, 193 member States of the United Nations adopted 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (‘SDGs’) to make the world more prosperous, inclusive, sustainable and resilient, where SDG 6 is fully featured for water, titled ‘Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’.

To focus attention on the importance of universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities in developing countries, every year the ‘World Water Day’ is observed on 22 March and this year that was commemorated along with the theme ‘Why waste water?’ in support of SDG 6.3 on improving water quality and reducing, treating and reusing wastewater.

It is mentioned earlier that T&C industry is very water intensive as water is used for cleaning the raw material and for many flushing steps during the whole production and produces highly polluted wastewater. Most of the fabric preparation steps, including desizing, scouring, bleaching and mercerizing, use water and each one of these steps must be followed by a thorough washing of the fabric to remove all chemicals used in that step before moving on to the next step.  The used water is usually returned to our ecosystem without treatment, which contains all of the process chemicals used during milling. For this reason, the amount of usable water declines as well as it is destroying the health of the whole ecosystem.

If we see the scenario in the perspective of Bangladesh then we see a disastrous picture of ‘water’ as the T&C industry has already blemished the water of various rivers. Bangladesh textile industry is one of the highest water consuming countries for washing and dyeing fabrics and the sector consume 1,500 billion litres of ground water a year for washing and dyeing fabrics. As most of the T&C mills are located in the riverside and they are not concern about environmental issue, so that they throw the industrial effluents directly into the nearby rivers. In addition, wastewater, which is produced in processing time are not properly reused.

Produced wastewater should be cleaned from fat, oil, color and other chemicals, which can be used during the several production steps. There is a new standard called the Global Recycle Standard (GRS), which was issued by Control Union Certifications, which has strict environmental processing criteria in place, it includes wastewater treatment as well as chemical use that is based on the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and the Oeko-Tex 100. However, these certifications are voluntary, and water treatment is very costly.  The industry is not adopting these standards expectedly and there is no much discussion about water treatment by American textile mills as well as others textile mills of the world. Therefore, it is not enough; rather all countries, including Bangladesh need government mandate for water treatment at each mill, as it is essential for human survival. From this viewpoint, the participation of textile millers will be fundamental to adopt new technologies limiting the wastage and pollution of water.

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