COVID-19 has disrupted the global supply chain of the textile industry. The demand and price of garments have come down and the prices of raw materials have gone up. The dyeing and chemical industries, one of the important raw material industries, also faced its consequences.
Textile Today has organized a webinar on ‘Sustainable Chemical Supply Chain’ in TexTIMe presented by COATS Bangladesh on 25 July 2021. It was aimed to discuss the dyeing and chemical industry supply chain, the issue of chemical compliance, and the progress of both industries.
- Prasad Pant, Director (South Asia), ZDHC Foundation (Roadmap to Zero),
- Thomas Schaefer, Head of ACADEMY, Bluesign® technologies ag
- Anish Paliwal, Global Marketing Manager, Huntsman Corporation
Tareq Amin, Founder and CEO of Textile Today moderated the program.
Tareq Amin started the webinar by questioning Prasad about the challenges of maintaining sustainable chemical development in the textile industry. Factories faced a financial crisis due to the lockdown. Although it is difficult to maintain chemical compliance due to higher costs, the factories were able to maintain chemical management.
Prasad said, “Even in crisis ZDHC’s suppliers maintain their chemical managements and many factories responded to ZDHC’s supplier to zero program which was a self-evaluation program for suppliers to evaluate their chemical management system”.
However, ZDHC also empathizes with its facilities by waiving off the wastewater testing which is an important factor. According to the ZDHC policy, there are two cycles where the facilities have to be tested for water in order to demonstrate Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals. Internally ZDHC has not lost its focus. ZDHC is still concentrating on its work.
Bangladesh’s Textile industry is still trying to maintain chemical compliance but still lacks the importance of chemical compliance. So Tareq questioned Dr. Thomas about the importance of chemical compliances and management.
Dr. Thomas responded “Sustainable chemicals and their management are not about using nonhazardous chemicals, it’s more than that. It’s about saving resources, time and reducing waste by sustainable chemicals.” Bluesign® is working with big companies to develop sustainability. Bluesign® had many remote audits in the past but because of COVID-19, it’s becoming a difficult task.
Bluesign® and ZDHC chemical compliance companies worked with a lot of problems for the epidemic but the chemical suppliers faced the worst situation for the epidemic.
Tareq Amin asked Anish about the financial crisis and changes in the supply chain of the textile chemical industry.
Anish said, “The situation changed in the global supply chain of the chemical industry which affects this industry”. Then the sudden demand keeps up, so the port became busy which increases the lead time. One of the audience asked Anish about how to solve the issue of raising the cost of shipping on which raising the price of chemicals.
“High transportation costs affect the price of textile chemicals so chemical suppliers are looking for alternative sources,” Anish said.
Tareq asked Anish whether they are planning on moving their chemical manufacturing plant or warehouse to Bangladesh to reduce the shipping cost. Anish replied that it is possible to build a hub in Bangladesh in the near future. United States, China, Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium are the top exporters of chemical raw materials right now.
Despite most chemical suppliers, it is very difficult to find compliant chemical suppliers of products. So Tareq Amin asked the reason to Anish. Anish replied that it’s a matter of traceability. Textile manufacturers have to increase traceability across the value chain. One of the listeners asked about the traceability of compliant chemical suppliers.
Dr. Thomas said, “Bluesign® has a list of 17 thousand chemicals in their search engine with chemical compounds and its suppliers”. “ZDHC also has a list of complaint chemical suppliers at their gateway,” said Prasad.
ZDHC is all about nonhazardous chemicals. Recently, ZDHC published RSL June 2021 chemical industry technical guidelines. It is based on industry standards to adapt to the implementation of chemical management systems. Now, ZDHC is working in some specific impact zones.
ZDHC’s goal is to link these impact zones, integrating other relative activities such as updating MRSL and waste portfolio guidelines. Mainly brands have their own RSL (Restricted Substances List for Finished Products) but ZDHC developed MRSL (Manufacturing Restricted Substance List) which is more practical for implementation.
One of the audiences asked Prasad if ZDHC pays any visits to their three-testing lab for MRSL. “ZDHC does not go to the lab, only go through documents because of special requirements of ISO 17025 the lab was allowed to test for MRSL,” Prasad said.
But soon ZDHC will evaluate the lab. Bluesign® has developed its own list.
Dr. Thomas said, “Bluesign® developed BSSL (Bluesign®® system substances list) for consumer safety”.
However, compliance is seen as a high-cost issue to manufacturers. Manufacturers are referring to cheap chemicals instead of complaint chemicals. Tareq asked Amin Prasad why sustainability is always expensive. Prasad said, “Initially, it is difficult to balance sustainable solutions economically”. But ZDHC is trying to build a three-level pillar to balance economically sustainable solutions.
Tareq Amin asked both ZDHC and Bluesign®, about – how they would conduct auditing in this lockdown situation. ZDHC worked mostly in online meetings and virtual auditing. “Last month, ZDHC implemented a project at a textile mill in India, and 80-90% of the work was practically completed,” Prasad said.
However, Dr. Thomas requested to go offline. Although, Bluesign® worked collaboratively both online and physically. Bluesign®’s purpose is to disseminate sustainability by adding value to the supply chain and share that knowledge with society.
Dr. Thomas said, “Everything starts with knowledge so in the future Bluesign® will go for training and education with their system partner on sustainability, resource-saving, and chemical management”.
Tareq Amin asked Anish what initiatives the chemical suppliers were taking for sustainable chemical development. Anis recalled that suppliers were working to preserve higher resources. At first, Huntsman started with only 3 dyes now there are 18 dyes are available.
Consumer behavior is also changing. Customers are also moving into fast fashion, where we should focus on sustainable fashion. Customers are now referring to polyester-cotton blends. In the conventional method, it takes 15 hours and 120-140 liters of water per kg for polyester processing. Huntsman created RISE Fast, a process that combines cell WW and acid dyestuffs that will help reduce carbon footprint.
Anish said, “We don’t want to make a big statement but with AVITERA® SE we can save 50 percent of the water every year something around 575 million people’s fresh drinking water”.
Quick Looks # Do you think virtual audit system is effective? Thomas Schaefer: Not for initial audits. For re-audits or second audits, if you already know the people, production site well, virtual audits can be done. # Why there are separate restricted lists and why can’t we combine them? Prasad Pant: Because of the various segments we have separate restricted lists and we can’t combine them. For the same reason we can’t have one common language for the whole world.
Prasad said,” but the only chemical suppliers cannot impact on sustainable chemical development, textile machinery companies, textile processing companies, textile manufactures and compliance companies have to collaborate with each other.”
One listener asked if it was possible to establish a chemical circularity in the textile industry. Dr. Thomas said, “90% chemical solution is used one time and 10% is consumed by textile, it will be difficult to create sustainable chemical circularity”. That’s why Bluesign® and ZDHC are working on the input. Because the input is controlled, the output is also indirectly controlled.
Finally, Tareq concluded the session by asking Prasad that in the case of water waste management which manufacturers should look upon technical issues or dissolved issues. “Wastewater treatment is still considered an expense by the manufactures but it would be beneficial if we work in technical terms related to input and process,” Prasad said.