Pollution Control Board to Monitor 27 More Sites

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In a bid to check the water quality, the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) has enhanced its monitoring locations from the earlier 104 sites across the state to 131.The move has been initiated as per the National Water Monitoring Programme undertaken by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) which has notified sampling and analysis procedures for these sites.The board is supposed to undertake the monthly monitoring of water quality with effect from March. Information will be duly uploaded on the board’s site. The CPCB is directly monitoring the water and air quality undertaken by the state board at these sites.

Out of the 27 new sites, three pertain to the Nalagarh industrial area on the Chikni river where the presence of textile units has become a cause of concern for the board. Two other sites at the Giri river and Surajmukhi Nullah in Solan will also be monitored henceforth. Four sites in Una district, including the one upstream of the Swan river, will be monitored. Barely one site in Kangra district on the Beas has been included in the new arrangement while maximum of six sites in Sirmaur district, including the Giri river, Salani Nullah, two sites along the Markanda river, Rampur Jattan Moginand Nullah and Roon Nullah. Besides, three sites in Kullu, three in Kinnaur and two in Chamba have been included for water monitoring.

With no staff enhancement in the four laboratories of the board which were operating at Parwanoo, Jasur, Sundernagar and Paonta Sahib, the staff will face an added challenge of analysing water samples from 31 new locations.Despite the Central Pollution Control Board having directed the SPCB to upgrade its Parwanoo lab as per the specifications of the National Accreditation Board of Calibration and Testing of Laboratories (NABL) within 90 days in October 2015, it is yet to meet these standards. The board is yet to enhance its staff and upgrade its equipment as per the NABL norms.

Member Secretary, SPCB, Sanjay Sood, said they would soon appoint more staff as certain posts were vacant and the process to procure requisite equipment was also under way.He said the process of meeting NABL specifications for the Parwanoo lab was in progress and would be completed in the coming months. Sood said in addition to the 131 Centrally-monitored sites for water pollution, there were 157 state-monitored sites too where they were keeping a check on the quality of surface water.

*This story first appeared on The Tribune India

Pali Textile Units Pollute Bandi River Despite NGT Stay

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By Dinesh Bothra

Effluents from textile units in Rajasthan’s Pali district pollute the Bandi river.(HT Photo)

Textile units in Pali city continue to release polluted water into the Bandi river, violating a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order staying their operation.

On October 3 last year, the NGT stayed the operation of about 800 textile units after environmentalists moved the tribunal over pollution of the Bandi river.

The water resources department recently exposed secret operation of some units. In a letter to the regional officer of the Rajasthan Pollution Control Board on March 17, executive engineer Ramnarayan Chaudhary said some textile units in Pali were releasing polluted water into the Bandi, a seasonal river of western Rajasthan.

The river water is stored in Nehda dam, about 40km from Pali city. Choudhary said, “Chemical water is reaching the Nehda dam through Bandi river.”

The dam remains filled to its full capacity though water stored during the rainy season was released for irrigation. “This makes it clear that water released from textile units in Pali is reaching the dam,” Choudhary said.

The water resources department tested the water quality. “The water in the dam is of no use for consumption and irrigation as its quality has deteriorated,” the executive engineer said. “Closure of textile units is just an eyewash.”

The quality test reports are stunning, said Mahaveer Singh Sukarlai, an environmentalist who went to the NGT over Bandi river pollution.

“The TDS (total dissolved solids) of the water stored in the dam after the rain was recorded at 560 PPM (parts per million); it has now risen to 2950. The electrical conductivity of the water has increased to 6.3 from 1.7,” Sukarlai said.

Around 200 million cubic feet of water has been polluted though the state government focuses on Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan, environmentalists said.

Rajeev Pareek, regional officer of the Rajasthan Pollution Control Board, said a team has been formed to keep an eye on the operation of textile units.

“Electric and water supply to eight textile units, found violating the NGT order, was snapped. Twelve more such units would be deprived of water and electric connections,” Pareek said.

“Supply of three-phase electricity to the industrial area will be stopped soon so that the textile units cannot operate secretly.”

*This story first appeared on Hindustan Times

Conversations: Fibre2Fashion and Pratibha Syntex

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The latest research trends focus on new fibres like Nettle

Pratibha Syntex, a leading name in the Indian organic cotton industry, is renowned for sustainable textile products. Its clientele covers leading global brands. The company hopes to grow internationally in a short span of time. In an interview with Fibre2Fashion.com, Mukesh Matta, VP-Business Development and Sustainable Initiatives of Pratibha Syntex talks about the company’s expansion plans.

Mukesh Matta 661_small
VP-Business Development & Sustainable Initiatives
Pratibha Syntex

What is the size of the organic farming industry in India? How much of this is held by Pratibha Syntex?

In India, organic cotton is produced over 101 million hectare. Average annual production is recorded at 222 million bales. Pratibha Syntex is engaged with around 16,000 farmers and uses around 5,000 MT of organic cotton lint per annum.

What is Pratibha’s USP?

Pratibha’s USP is responsible and responsive fashion, from farm to fabric. Pratibha considers sustainability one of its core values. Our focus is on-time delivery and we continuously work towards reducing lead times.

What sustainable solutions are followed in the Indian textile manufacturing industry? Which, according to you, are the areas of improvement?

Sustainable solutions in the Indian textile manufacturing industry are mostly material-driven. Some examples are: 1. Organic cotton, BCI and fair trade as sustainable cotton fibre 2. rPET (Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate) as manmade synthetic fibre 3. Lyocells as regenerated cellulose fibres like Tencel, Excel etc The focus should now shift to processes and practices for the next area of improvement.

How can wastage be minimised in the textile and garment manufacturing processes? What role does Pratibha play here?

The approach to reducing wastage is multi-pronged at Pratibha. We take steps like: 1. Reducing waste through shorter process cycles with low impact chemicals 2. Maximising reuse of waste during the intermediate process 3. Maximising dyeing on low-salt and salt-free methods to reduce final sludge 4. Working on the best marker efficiency by incorporating this as an integral role of the design team.

What has been the growth percentage at Pratibha Syntex over the last five years?

We have managed to sustain growth despite a challenging market. The average turnover in the last five years was around Rs 825 crore. With increasing demand of value-added products, we have introduced a range of new products. These have impacted our business positively.

Please share details of your last two fiscals and your expectations from the coming two.

We posted a turnover of Rs 828 crore and Rs 819 crore in fiscal 2014-15 and 2013-14 respectively. We are expecting a turnover of Rs 1,500 crore by 2020.

What are your latest research findings?

The latest research trends focus on new fibres like nettle, considered one of the most sustainable fibres. It consumes negligible water and grows on arid land. It is one of the best ecologically suited natural fibres and can change the future of the clothing industry. In time, I will be able to reveal more about this project.

*This story first appeared on Fibre2Fashion

Why Nike and MIT see textiles as material to climate change

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By Joel Makower

Sutterstock: optimarc
Sutterstock: optimarc

Nike has just come out of the starting gate with some new initiatives aimed at taming its corporate and supply-chain footprint, and as usual it has hit the ground running.

Its latest sprint includes a collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Materials Challenge seeking “revolutionary new ideas” on innovative and low-impact fabrics and textiles, a commitment to fully power its company-owned and operated facilities with renewable energy within a decade. Oh, and an updated app so that your company can follow in Nike’s footsteps.

The MIT announcements represents the next chapter between the two organizations to study the environmental and social impacts of the key materials used to make most apparel and footwear products: cotton, polyester, leather and rubber. An MIT report, commissioned by Nike and released last week, looks at and quantifies the impacts and key hotspots where these materials have significant climate and other environmental impacts.

“There’s been a big missing part of the story around climate, which is that people have not understood the footprint of where fossil fuels show up as an imbedded part of a sector, and in particular in materials,” Hannah Jones, Nike’s chief sustainability officer and VP, innovation accelerator, told me last week. The report’s goal, she said, was “to galvanize the material industry and the chemical industry that supports them into change.”

Jones explained that despite a tremendous amount of work already being undertaken by Nike and other footwear and apparel companies, “We really need to kickstart a much bigger conversation with the industry as a whole and start to send signals to the materials vendors and the chemical companies that do the inventing behind them.”

Nike has opened a portal within MIT’s CoLab, a crowdsourcing platform “where citizens work with experts and each other to create, analyze, and select detailed proposals for what to do about climate change.” The CoLab, housed within the school’s Center for Collective Intelligence, hosts “contests,” each focusing on a Big Question related to climate change — for example, the hardware, software and business models that can increase urban energy efficiency; actions that can address energy-water nexus challenges; and how to mitigate the urban heat island effect — more than two dozen altogether, though participation in some is light.

On Friday, the CoLab began accepting proposals for “revolutionary new ideas for how to engage industries, designers and consumers in valuing, demanding and adopting low-impact fabrics and textiles.”

Material evidence

The climate and other environmental impacts of clothing and footwear don’t usually rank up there with coal-fired power plants, cement manufacturing and — well, smog-spewing Volkswagens — as major contributors to climate change. But as the new MIT report points out, the impacts aren’t trivial. Example: The emissions associated with a single T-shirt is roughly equal to the carbon footprint of driving a passenger car for 10 miles.

That puts the materials community — the companies, industries and individuals who work with or make decisions around materials — “in a unique position to enable sustainable patterns of consumption,” says the report.

The industry’s clout is driven by its size. The global apparel industry produces more than 150 billion garments in a typical year — equivalent to more than 20 new articles of clothing for every person on the planet — and is a $1.8 trillion market. In 2015, the industry is projected to use nearly 100 million tons of fiber and filament yarns, about 40 percent agriculturally derived (cotton, wool, etc.) and 60 percent petroleum-based synthetics (polyester, nylon and various blends). Both have climate impacts.

And then there’s water. It takes several dozen gallons — more than 400 pounds — to process just one pound of textiles, according to a 2009 study. Given that footwear and apparel manufacturing is concentrated in a handful of regions, that can lead to significant water stresses. For example, in 2009, textile production ranked third among major industries in China in terms of total wastewater discharge, primarily from the dyeing and finishing steps of manufacturing.

All of which, says Jones, “is a major concern, and it’s also a major business opportunity.”

Jones views the MIT challenge as a means of unearthing innovative solutions — new technologies, novel materials and the like — but beyond that, she says, “We’re really looking at it from a system-change perspective and at how we can kickstart this revolution in the materials industry.”

This is hardly the first initiative by Nike to transform its industry and supply chain. Indeed, the company’s materials and manufacturing innovation initiatives and achievements, led by Jones, has a long history, as we’ve reported for years. The company is one of the top buyers of organic cotton. Its factories have moved to water- and chemical-free dyeing. It has stopped sourcing leather from the Amazon rainforest. It has recycled countless millions of plastic bottles into garments. It has been on a journey to achieve zero discharge of hazardous chemicals throughout its supply chain.

And the company has shared its innovations, from scoring the environmental attributes of materials to sharing patents. A few years ago, Nike partnered with NASA and two other U.S. federal agencies to identify game-changing innovations, such as sustainable fabrics, or how to transform waste systems in both developed and developing countries.

Walking a fine line

Two years ago, the company publically released an app, called Making, to allow designers to research fabrics or materials on such things as water consumption, chemistry, energy and waste. Last week, Nike released an updated 3.0 version of the app, which includes comparisons of the energy used and greenhouse gases created during the production of each material.

I asked Jones how the company walks a fine line between sharing such information and staying a step ahead in a fiercely competitive sector.

“It’s definitely a delicate balance,” she said. “And we’re constantly walking along that line of where is this competitive and where is this pre-competitive? As a sustainability practitioner, I actually love it when things become competitive because that means it’s going mainstream. It means that it’s a pull from the market versus us pushing.”

But much of this transcends competition, she says. “We do the industry a whole lot of good by actually helping create clarity and standards and transparency around the footprints. We build industry coalitions. Oh, and by the way, we’re absolutely going to compete on some of the other things.”

Nike is far from alone in seeking materials innovations. Patagonia, for one, has been continually pushing the limits of innovation — everything from “ethical goose down” to Yulex, a substitute to petroleum-based neoprene for wetsuits, derived from guayule plants indigenous to the southwestern United States. Kering, which owns brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent and Puma, last year opened a Materials Innovation Lab in Northern Italy, dedicated to helping making more sustainable choices in their supply chains and products. Adidas announced last week that it will use worn-out cleats and combine them with scrap materials from other industries to make new cleats.

Increasingly, such innovations are coming from sources outside the company walls. “Somebody once said to me, ‘There are a lot of really smart people out there. And most of them don’t work for you,’” says Jones. And, she adds, some innovations even come from outside the sector, requiring Nike to tap nontraditional sources for innovation. The CoLab challenge is part of that effort.

“You need to fail early and fail fast many, many times to get to the one thing that you can change and disrupt an entire market,” says Jones. For example, she says, Nike approached a number of companies asking, “Can we knit an upper using 3D geometry and complex algorithms that will help the athlete and support the foot?” It took many iterations until they succeeded.

Says Jones: “We fell forward all the time on that one. It’s now a major platform for the whole company. And it’s having a massive impact on waste reduction.”

Clearly, Jones is thinking big. “My end goal is ultimately creating an entirely closed-loop business model,” she told me, adding that the making of materials will be key to reaching the goal of “renewable, reusable materials that have an infinite life and that can be re-launched and rebuilt. And do that at scale.”

Another goal, she might have added, is to make sure that mindset becomes mainstream, the way the race is run.

*This story first appeared on GreenBiz.

Can China’s textile industry clean up its supply chain?

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By Racheal Meiers, Director, Inclusive Economy

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

As part of BSR’s Business Leadership for an Inclusive Economy initiative, we are running an interview series with thought leaders from business, government, civil society, academia and philanthropy.

Their voices and perspectives will help deepen our conversation on how we can build a more inclusive economy and how business most effectively can contribute to that vision.

We spoke to Liang Xiaohui, head of social responsibility for the China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC), about striving for good jobs in textile manufacturing, technology changes and impacts on workers and an inclusive future for the industry in China.

Racheal Meiers: What does it mean to be included in the economy? How does the textile industry make the economy more inclusive?

China National Textile and Apparel Council

Liang Xiaohui, head of social responsibility for the China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC).

Liang Xiaohui: To be included in the economy fundamentally means to share the results of social and economic development by creating an equal opportunity for everybody to be active in economic activities and decisions.

Specifically, the textile industry creates jobs for people without a lot of education and skills — that’s why manufacturing is quite important in an economy, especially in developing countries.

To achieve an inclusive economy, it’s very important for businesses and also governments to think about how the interests of employers and employees can be balanced — and the voices of workers can be heard and their concerns can be addressed. As we look toward the future, this balance will be even more important.

For instance, if we can upgrade technologies and equipment and, at the same time, educate workers and let them upgrade themselves so that they have opportunities for better, higher paid, higher skilled jobs, that will be a big step toward achieving an inclusive economy in our sector.

Meiers: Given where things are in China right now, with changes in the labor force and competition from other countries in manufacturing, how do you see inclusion as fitting into this context?

Liang: In this context, we can no longer rely on lower wages or lax environmental practices to be competitive; we have to evolve to a higher stage of the supply chain to compete.

Getting there will take two critical elements: The first one is to be innovative, such as upgrading technologies in manufacturing; and the second is building a workforce of people that can effectively work with and work for innovations. To support our efforts to upgrade our industry, we have to build up our human resources potential and give people, especially existing textile workers, more opportunities to learn expertise and skills.

Meiers: How are your member companies approaching technology upgrades and related labor force engagement?

Liang: That’s really a big question, and I cannot give you a general answer because we have almost half a million textile and garment companies in China. But I do see that many companies are working hard to incorporate technology tools for different purposes, such as reducing pollution and increasing efficiency.

A very popular idea in our industry now is to exchange human power with machines, which is in part driven by the lack of skilled workers, and even a shortage of low- and unskilled workers in China in recent years.

At the same time, there are factories that are working to invest in their workforces. They are calling on government and associations like ours to improve education and vocational training to support upgraded skills in the industry. Some factories are also taking these steps themselves.

For example, one factory I recently visited is investing a lot of money to purchase very advanced equipment from Europe. To support these technology upgrades, they have also started their own academy, a professional training school where they can train their workers and future employees on how to work with the new equipment.

This factory sees investments in the expertise and skills of their workers as part of the process of upgrading their technology hardware. And they also understand it will be important to pay higher wages to the workers who become capable of operating the new machines.

Meiers: That’s an encouraging example. How is the Chinese government getting involved in these issues of workforce skill development, to support technology upgrades in the manufacturing industry?

Liang: The government has been monitoring this issue for many years. Recent policies from 2014 require that a minimum of 30 percent of local additional fees on education shall be used for vocational education, and the enrollment of vocational schools should raise from about 30 million in 2012 to more than 38 million in 2020, almost a 30 percent increase.

This will help transfer more young people into vocational schools, making them advanced industry workers with skills and expertise. The young people see where the economy is going and understand that to be included in that future economy, they need to know the skills required by it.

For example, there was a story last year of a young man who quit Peking University to enroll in an occupational school to become an auto mechanic — he did this because he liked the work, but he also knew that the auto maintenance industry in China is very underdeveloped for the demand that is coming.

Meiers: Shifting gears a little bit, let’s talk about the current workforce in textile manufacturing. Who are some of the most vulnerable people that are taking these jobs, and how do you work with your CNTAC members to identify these groups of people and put in place mechanisms to support them?  

Liang: I think the most vulnerable group in the industry is migrant women workers in their 30s and 40s. In the labor market, in the factory, they are not in a very good position. They have very low representation in management, and they have low levels of training and education as compared with male peers. The reason for this is that most of them come from villages and underdeveloped regions, where women have a very low status and so don’t receive as much education and opportunity.

We are actually doing some work with BSR to support these women, and all women workers in the industry. Though more than 65 percent of workers in the industry are women, they hold very few positions in management. Working with BSR, and learning from your expertise and experience supporting women’s empowerment in China, we are hoping to build up the potential of individual women to expand their skills and advance to these positions, while at the same time working to expand management’s understanding of women workers’ potential.

Meiers: In these collaborations, what opportunities do you see? How can we expand partnerships to support a more inclusive economy?

Liang: I think the greatest opportunity from our collaborations is that we are a national business association and you are an international business association, of sorts. And this is critical, because we are working at both ends of the supply chain. A lot of your members are buyers of our members.

So in working together, we can try to mobilize both ends of the international supply chain. So many issues can be addressed in this way.

Read perspectives on the inclusive economy from The Rockefeller Foundation’s Zia Khan, Western Union’s Talya Bosch and GlaxoSmithKline’s Clare Griffin.

This story first appeared on:

Unique initiative for clean textile and leather production expands

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Sweden Textile Water Initiative, one of Sweden’s largest public-private partnerships, will expand to new countries in Asia and Africa after a successful pilot project in India.

Through the initiative, 28 Swedish textile and leather companies have cooperated with Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) to catalyse a shift towards sustainable production globally.

To achieve this, the initiative has educated suppliers and sub-contractors to help minimize the use of water, energy and chemicals throughout the whole supply chain.

More than 40 factories participated in the pilot project, which contributed to saving 284 million litres of water and 402 tonnes of chemicals annually.

“It is all about spreading knowledge and changing attitudes,” says Rami Abdelrahman, Programme Manager at SIWI. “Within just two years, we have educated more than 14,000 factory managers and employees. This has paved the way for long-term gains for both the environment, the companies, the suppliers and the local population.”

Inspired by the success of the pilot, the initiative will now expand to include new factories in Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, India and Turkey. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) will, through a unique business model, match the companies’ and factories’ investments in better water management.

SIWI will continue the learning process with suppliers and sub-contractors in the new countries. The initiative also works with national public authorities to increase the institutional capacity to govern water sustainably.

”Unfortunately, the textile industry often has a negative impact on the environment and we therefore want to take the lead in minimizing water and chemical usage in Asia and Africa. We will jointly contribute to sustainable development and an improved local environment,” says Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Director-General, Sida.

Many companies have joined forces in this initiative, despite being competitors in the stores. The network needs more members, however.

“The more companies that engage, the greater the impact. Ideally we would want all Swedish textile and leather companies to implement our guidelines and help us develop them further”, says Elin Larsson, Sustainability Manager, Filippa K.

** This post first appeared on the SIWI website here.

Even In Fashion, Less Bad Is Not Equal To More Good!

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By Lewis Perkins | Re-posted from Lewis’s personal blog. 22711_10205598498655456_5978854866461753438_n This morning, I opened up my email and saw I was tagged by a friend on a post about the article Slow Fashion Shows Consumers What It’s Made Of”  from NPR.   The article was good and gave a high level view of the issues that exists due to the lack of transparency in the global supply chain and the low price we are paying for our clothes.  I work in this field and was familiar with the subject, so the article is not what caught my attention; it was the responses from the dozens of people commenting below the article.  The comments ranged from disdain for the pretense in the fashion industry; “I am already being forced to worry about what I am eating and now you are making me focus on what I am wearing” to the disconnected; “this does not apply to me because I don’t buy $5.99 t-shirts at Walgreen’s.”  The rest seemed to think the article was telling them to stop buying affordable clothing and focus on luxury goods because they are better made and have a more transparent supply chain.” Why fashion? Several months ago a good friend of mine chided me for taking my talents into the Fashion Industry instead of a more “worthwhile” or “substantial” industry.   She viewed fashion as frivolous and unimportant in the scheme of global issues.   The reality is folks, unless you and your children are walking around naked, don’t sleep in beds or sit on upholstered sofas, or work in buildings with carpet, have curtains in your home; you are part of the global textile supply chain, and regardless if you shop at Walmart, J-Crew or Prada, you are part of this equation for supply and demand of all levels and uses of textiles on the planet. Textiles are one of the oldest industries, carry the most cultural significance and have one of the largest footprints on human and ecological systems.  The disdain for the Fashion Industry is actually short-sighted, because we are all using materials to reflect our personal statement whether it is intentional or not.  Yes, perhaps apparel “fashion” still feels like it’s direction resides in the hands of brands, designers, stylists, celebrities and other tastemakers.  But it’s not just about our clothing, it’s in the phones we use and the bikes or cars we drive.  It does not always mean high style.  We all use clothing and other products to tell a story about ourselves, whether we realize it or not.  So let’s place judgement aside, because this is really not about fashion.  This is about the future of all species on this planet.  So we better stop judging and get interested. What I am talking about is the billions of human lives who touch this industry every day whether they work in it or not.   And also remember that hundreds of millions (if not billions) of humans, animals and acres of land that make up the supply chain that creates our textiles. It keeps world economies going and people fed and warm at night.  The solution is not less bad.  The solution is more good. Can I afford sustainable apparel? When we talk about increasing the price of apparel, we are not talking about the difference between $5.99 and $599 (or even $59 for that matter) .   It’s price increases relative to the product (perhaps the difference between $5.99 and $6.99) in order to ensure better practices along the way to the consumer’s hands.    Incremental increases in labor, sustainable materials, better (e.g. healthy and safe for people and ecological systems) chemistry for synthetic fibers and for the dyes and processing chemicals (which may include a price increase due to the cost of innovation).   Traceable packaging, tags and labels also means we apply the same standards to the auxiliary materials as we do to the main materials in the products (fibers, yarns, trims, threads, zippers, buttons, etc..). I’ll just buy second-hand clothing. Another point the comment feed folks were making is around the need to increase our use of vintage, consignment and second hand apparel.   There is no doubt that keeping a garment as a garment (or any product in it’s original design) for as long as we can will have the least possible impact spread across that product’s years of useful life.  And yes, owning things better made and being able to enjoy them longer or pass them along to a second owner is a worthy pursuit.  However, eventually everything comes to the end of life #1.   It could be 6 months, 6 years or 60 years, but one day that dress is no longer a dress.   This is why we must advocate for the creation of a circular economy of materials.   So, one day when that garment can no longer be a garment, or even used as a rag, we will know what to do with the fibers and other materials?   Have they been designed with toxic dyes and other chemicals that prevent their safe return to the biological system (think composting) or even a useful stream for upcycling?  Many dyes and other chemicals can actually serve to prevent that material from being capable of recycling ad upcycling (either chemically or mechanically). So the first step is to employ the use of clean chemistry in a way that looks at what that material can become after it’s been used in apparel. That could mean we upcycle yarns or fibers back into yarns for the apparel industry or it could mean we take them back to the fiber or polymer level (depending if natural or synthetic fibers) and sell them to another industry. This requires take-back systems and the innovation for upcycling of fibers.   Today, we are just embarking on the technology and the systems which will allow this to happen.  But just like everything in the world of economics, we need supply and demand. That means, someone (some industry) must want those materials and someone else (along the chain from consumer to retailer to brand) must be engaged in a process for textile recovery. With the demand comes the investment and the innovation.   Did you know it takes some brands more than 5 years to collect enough supply of their “Take-back” fleece pullovers, to be able to send that feed to a fiber recycler and put it back into a new product.   That’s way too slow.  We need more volume to create speed of moving materials.  If more brands advocated for material reuse in their products (and at the same time advocate for collection and distribution of material for sale to other industries) we could begin to see the amount of volume needed to make the system work.   Companies like I:CO (http://www.ico-spirit.com/en/homepage/) have been established to collect and process textiles. They already work with retailers like American Eagle, H&M, Levi’s and Puma, but they need more supply and demand than this.   They are ready to grow exponentially.  And we can help. Why less is not better! Finally another point I hear often (and read in the comment feed) is about buying less and using less.  There is no doubt that consumption is an issue in the USA (if not the entire world).  But why?   Is consumption really the issue or is it the way in which we consume or use products and packaging that have not been optimized for material reuse, so therefore everything eventually ends up in a landfill.    Making the choice to have less in your life is a personal call, but I don’t believe we should live in a world where we are forced to take shorter showers and eat less of certain types of food and feel guilty about our love for certain things.   Wanting and having your creature comforts is a personal choice, and many could argue a great gift of the experience of being human and living in the material world.  What we need is to design the materials and processes for products with new methods which ensure the use of safe materials; chosen for an intended use and end of use; powered by renewable energy with clean water stewardship and a high level of mindful uses of human, animal and land capital. If production on the planet was a positive force, we could all feel good about our individual footprint on the planet and our choices to have things.  Keep in mind that even if we all cut our product use in half, or by more, we are living on a planet with diminishing resources and a growing world population.  So we really have to go upstream and solve the problems at the origin of design and into the supply chain and not expect the solution to reside downstream with ourselves.     Yes, we are a big part of the equation.  Our greatest impact is with our purchasing power.   We can drive this change by helping to create the demand for higher quality materials and production and making sure we get them back to a system that wants and needs them.   Even with that t-shirt from Walgreens.

Nordic fashion to become the most sustainable in the world

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Just through the textiles they buy, every year, each Nordic citizen is responsible for carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to a drive from the far north of Norway to Denmark. The Nordic Ministers for the Environment are joining forces against pollution from the fashion and textile industry by way of a new action plan for textiles.

Source: Michael Funch/Norden.org
Source: Michael Funch/Norden.org

Scandinavian design is already world famous. Now it’s the turn of the Nordic fashion and textile industry, which is set to become the most sustainable in the world. The vision of a new Nordic action plan presented by the Nordic Ministers for the Environment in Copenhagen today is for the Region to “lead the way when it comes to sustainable design, consumption, and production”.

The objective of the action plan is for fashion and textiles to be part of a circular economy by 2050, in which the lifetime of products is extended, and textile fibres are kept in a closed circuit in which they are used over and over again. Tomorrow’s fashion designers play a key role in this action plan:

“We want to develop a Nordic academy for sustainable fashion and design to educate designers throughout the Region in sustainability. There’s also a range of new business opportunities within green fashion – the Region can contribute to solving global environmental problems while creating growth and jobs,” says Denmark’s Minister for the Environment Kirsten Brosbøl.

Major environmental damage

The fashion and textile industry’s tremendous need for water, energy, chemicals, and pesticides not only makes it one of the world’s biggest polluters, but also has devastating effects on both the environment and the people working in the industry.

Through their action plan, the Nordic countries are joining forces to confront this problem:

“We share our Nordic neighbours’ focus on the environment, social responsibility, and green growth, making our co-operation on fashion and textiles a natural step forwards. We are going to create sustainable clothing for a circular economy in which fashion lasts longer and textile fibres are used over and over again,” Brosbøl says.

The action plan for textiles, which is an initiative by the Danish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers, is the first step towards making Nordic fashion the most sustainable in the world. The plan consists of a series of specific and sustainable initiatives, and is due to run until 2017.


• Each inhabitant in the Nordic countries buys 13 to 16 kilos of clothes per year.
• In 2011, 34,400 tonnes of textiles were produced in the Nordic region. Aside from this, a considerable amount of textiles for the Nordic fashion industry is produced in Asia. In 2012, net imports of textiles to the Nordic region totalled 316,000 tonnes.
• Significantly more water is required to produce textiles for the average Nordic consumer each year than is consumed by a Nordic three-person household. In manufacturing these textiles, the amount of carbon dioxide produced is equivalent to a 2,000-kilometre car journey.

Sources: Nordic Council of Ministers and Denmark Trade Council.

** This post first appeared on Norden here.

Experts Frame rules to make textile industry green

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Speakers at a seminar styled as ‘Legal and Regulatory Issues Related to Environmental Sustainability of the Textile Sector’ in Dhaka yesterday – See more at: http://www.dhakatribune.com/business/2015/mar/22/experts-frame-rules-make-textile-industry-green#sthash.pUsVEHfk.dpuf

In the wake of increasing demand for green products globally, experts yesterday suggested framing rules for making the textile industry environmental complaint for enhancing its competitiveness and sustainability.

They also made a set of recommendations, including giving financial or fiscal incentives to encourage entrepreneurs to low-cost cleaner production practices and making aware that the reduction of energy consumption can be a real cost-cutter.

The recommendations were made at a seminar on “Legal and Regulatory Issues Related to Environmental Sustainability of the Textiles Sector,” organised jointly by Policy Research Institute (PRI) and International Finance Corporation at the PRI conference room.

Speaking at the function, Environment and Forest Minister Anwar Hossain Manju said his ministry had put its best efforts to improve environment in the country.

“There are lots of regulations but effective implementation of them is important to reduce pollution,” he said.

He expressed disappointment that the water supplied by the government was not drinkable, which is “unfortunate.”

BGMEA President Atiqul Islam said ensuring quality and environmental matters in the factories is increasingly becoming a global issue.

“This means if any of the two is missing, you are simply out of business.”

“But it is easy for big factories but not for small factories to address the environmental pollution, which is a challenge.”

Atiqul Islam added the textile industry uses ground water as it contains less chlorine.

He laid emphasis on financial support at lower interest for implementing the environmental issue.

Senior environmental adviser to GIZ in Bangladesh Tanuja Bhattacharjee said rules and proper guidelines are necessary to make textile industry competitive as environmental sustainability is becoming an increasingly important issue in international arena.

“It is high time to look at the issue so that we can set example before the world,” she said.

She said GIZ is going to launch mobile testing water wastage programme by June next to identify the level of environment pollution in the textile industry.

Assistant Chief of Ministry of Environment and Forest, Khalid Hassan said the ministry is in the process of enacting Land Zoning Act to help make cluster textile industry outside of the city.

Chief Operating Officer of Comfit Composite Limited, Md Kawser Ali described that how his company had reduced use of water by adopting environment-friendly technology.

“Use of water has fallen to 50 litres from 180 litres for cleaning per kilogram fabric. ”

PRI Executive Director Ahsan H Mansur emphasised the need to address the environmental issue before being late for keeping the environment clean for generations to come.

He presented a paper at the seminar putting a number of recommendations, including differentiating water tariffs based on locations, strengthening enforcement and monitoring, tax and duty rationalisation for encouraging environmentally-friendly investment goods and for discouraging hazardous chemicals.

The paper said although data on the extent of washing dying and finishing firms with effluent treatment plants (ETPs) are not readily available, the perception of experts is that the coverage is very low at around 30%.

Without the full coverage with ETPs along with strict enforcement of rules, the water pollution could not be addressed, it said.

An assessment of four firms shows that 3 of 7 best practices cost less than Tk4.1 lakh each, two of them cost almost nothing.

None requires more than 15 months to recoup the costs and the improvements could reduce water and energy consumption by up to 25% as well as reduce chemical use significantly, according to the findings.

** This post was sourced from Dhaka Tribune here.