The apparel sector certainly is not as chemical-intensive as other global industries, but its variety of chemical operations and materials does present a range of potential hazards to its workers and the surrounding communities and environment.
The establishment of a chemical management system becomes an even more necessary response from individual factories as new chemical concerns may arise.
As one of the top-rated compliance denim industry, Mahmud Denims Ltd has established written procedures, inspections and other requirements which comprise a systematic approach to achieve the company goal of the consistent quality of products and reviewed continue sustainability.
Mahmud Denims LTD fiercely backed them by endorsing and adopting their policies, investing in cutting edge technologies to reduce the discharge of hazardous chemical to literally zero by the year 2020.
National and international standards have been established by ISO and other organizations to define the minimum requirements for various types of management systems.
These standards provide them recommended framework for the particular type of management system and specify generic requirements for compliance with the standard.
MDL top management assigned a chemical management team to look after chemical-related matters all the way from purchasing to disposal. The team also helped top management implemented policy throughout the factory.
Chemical storage and inventory
Storing chemical in a safe and hygienic condition is very important for human and product health as well as for the environment. In MDL, they maintained documentation for chemical storing, handling, weighing and mixing SOP, which shall be ensured to be practiced by chemical responsible and others related to chemical handling and using.
Currently, MDL using 115 chemicals for different application. All the chemicals used in the factory recorded in a documented inventory list. The list updated every month by chemical responsible.
Once a new lot of chemicals arrived, chemical responsible teste the quality parameters such as purity, specific gravity, PH, shade, compatibility, solubility, wetting property, etc. against the standard in the lab.
Other restrictions or parameters such as APO, azo and formaldehyde are checked in the third-party lab. Failure to meet any of the above standards, they ensure that the chemical is sent back to the supplier.
Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and other information
Chemical responsible team of MDL developed a list of the flammable or explosive chemical list including acetic acid, hydrosulfite/sodium hydrosulfite, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen peroxide, bleaching powder, potash and identified their flash point according to MDDS and reactivity with other components for safe uses. They conduct a training needs assessment for workers who are vulnerable to chemical use, transportation, storing and disposal.
Based on the training needs assessment, the company authority arranges training on a regular basis who are directly involved in chemical handling. Besides that, all employees receive basic chemical hazard and safety training annually. Top management is also trained in this chemical management system.
Management is always updated with the new MRSL/RSL/CTW List and implementation toolkit for C&A, H&M, ZDHC and Inditex by checking buyer’s website, supplier portal in every 3 months for a possible new version.
Chemical transfers and transport within the factory
Mahmud denims followed FIFO (first in first out) method to transfer chemical from main chemical storage to different sub store on the point of use. Documented storing, handling, weighing and mixing SOP are used for chemical handling by the responsible.
Hazard and precaution signs and instructions are posted in the local language in the working areas. The company aware of proper and appropriate PPEs uses while handling chemicals. This activity raises several issues which are appropriately addressed by chemical management efforts:
- Smaller container labeling
- PPE for workers
- Other equipment – carts, spill materials, bonding & grounding wires
Application of chemical
The application of chemical in the production processes controlled by production responsible and chemical handling staff. MDL following these standards to maintain for optimum use of chemicals to get the best quality:
- Checking the quality parameters of the chemical when receiving from a store such as purity, specific gravity, PH, shade, compatibility, solubility, wetting property, etc. against the standard.
- If all the parameters above comply with the standard then chemical can be used in the process, if not, shall be returned to the store and thereafter to the supplier.
- Setting up the machine based on the program code for the optimum use of the chemical.
- Preparing the chemicals based on the planning program and recipes.
- When machine is running all the parameters such as PH, concentration of the boxes, padder pressure, temperature, speed of machine, feeding of chemical, viscosity of the size, solid content, humidity, tension, color pick up, oxidation-reduction potential, etc. must be checked regularly and maintained against standards for the optimum use of chemical.
Chief Operating Officer (COO) Engr. Sirajul Islam of MDL shared about their developed nitrogen technology in slasher dyeing machine which helps them to save power consumption as its small size and saves about 20% dyes, a chemical in the process.
Slasher dyeing machine mainly used for a lower amount of yarn dyeing than rope dyeing.
COO also told, “We carefully review and evaluate our current production processes to find out a possible generation or use of hazardous chemicals, always look for better alternatives of currently used chemicals to get possible best quality and eagerly adopt newer and better technologies to reduce the harmful impacts of chemical discharge on the environment. ‘Improvement for a better and brighter future’ is our slogan.”
Disposal or discharge
At Mahmud Denims Ltd all the wastewater is treated in the biological effluent treatment plant (ETP). An ETP responsible is assigned to make sure all the effluent is treated in the ETP and parameters are met set by the country rules before discharging.
They monitored the parameters such as COD, BOD, PH, TSS, TDS and DO of the wastewater at different stages of the treatment including outlet in daily and recorded as evidence.