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Zero Discharge: Let's zero in on opportunity

Feb 01, 2016

Where is the dyeing and processing industry heading? Are we going to be ‘Eco- friendly’ or ‘Economy friendly’? Only time will tell. Recently, the Environment Ministry has proposed effluent norms which the Textile Ministry of India has most certainly termed ‘stringent’ and raised concerns and issues associated with its implementation (PTI December 31, 2015). The proposal is to mandate all textile units to reduce their effluent discharge to zero. How big is the challenge? Is it impossible? Well this surely requires deliberations among the key players of the small, medium and large wet processing industries. At the same time it provides an excellent opportunity to execute projects that does deliver ‘zero discharge’.

Let us understand it is imperative for India to position itself as a producer of high end fabric and one that adheres to international norms on Zero Discharge, immaterial of implementation of the stringent effluent norms now, or in a phased manner. The technologist has to act and deliver now. Some suggestions would be:

  • Solution providers can rent effluent treatment plants to small scale industries

  • Collaborations among small textile units to jointly process their effluent can be made mandatory

  • Construct pipelines that can carry the effluent to distant ETPs

  • Research providing shorter and affordable solutions for all segments be given priority and financed sufficiently

  • Last but not the least co-operation between government, industry and solution providers is necessitated and organisation like Society of Dyers and Colourist (SDC) can play a pivotal role to expedite the process 

ZDHC in India?

In 2011, a group of major apparel and footwear brands and retailers made a shared commitment to help lead the industry towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020; it is now the ZDHC group. At present it has more than 26 world’s leading brand committed to the mission.

A similar initiative needs to be taken by Indian brands and retailers. It would be welcomed if it is voluntarily done

by them. The Textile Ministry also needs to encourage such organisation by recognising them for their initiatives. It can also make it mandatory for textile units receiving government benefits like TUFF or tax exemptions to follow zero discharge norms.

Eileen Fisher, a clothing industry magnate in 2015 remarked that fashion is the second largest polluter which of course is impractical to know. However, it is certain that the fashion carbon footprint is enormously high in this industry going by the diverse raw material, textile and garment manufacture, processing, long and varied supply chains, shipping, retail, use and finally the disposal of the item of clothing. Fashion business then, serves as a polluting industry of the world. India surely needs to take initiatives to make it clean of hazardous chemicals at least. Designers need to popularise organic textiles (though that too comes with its own baggage of being water intensive), use of ‘safe’ chemicals, clean manufacturing practices, ethical manufacturing. All this shall need scheduled training of staff to execute them. It is an age-old business mantra that “Customer is King”. As an informed and responsible customer can we take a few basic steps to reduce the environmental impact of textiles? Let us make a new beginning by considering the following:

1)Stop buying

How many days can you go without buying any clothes?
Every individual needs to assess his/her wardrobe and decide for oneself.
2)Smart Buying

Buy clothes
i)From shops and brands that sell sustainable clothing.
ii)That can be perceived as fashionable throughout the year.
iii)That are colourfast and whose quality does not deteriorate.
iv)Which can be worn in more than one ways and coordinated to give a new look every time
v)Which require less or no maintenance (Oil, Water and Soil repellent fabrics)
vi)Made from Organic or Recycled fabrics
3)Give Back
i)Donate your used clothes to the needy
ii)NGO’s can do this on a bigger scale

Yogesh Gaikwad is Business Manager – ASEAN Region, Country Manager – India at Society of Dyers and Colourists