Is the textile industry sustainable? Yes, it’s possible. At the present time it is the largest export oriented industry in Bangladesh. We are working on how this sector will have a long term impact on the country’s economy. Textile industries are very harmful to the environment. Water and chemicals mixed with contaminated and various chemicals of washing, scouring, dyeing companies are constantly challenging us. For this reason, sustainability is very important in the textile sector. Sustainability is the sustainable development of textile companies that will meet current needs without harming the environment and will enable future generations to meet their own needs.
3 pillars of sustainability
The Environmental Pillar: The company places a lot of emphasis on environment pillar such as reducing carbon footprints, packaging waste, water usage and their overall effect on the environment. Companies have found that have a useful impact on the planet can also have a positive financial impact. Five phase of environment sustainability are material, manufacturing, retail, consumption and disposal phase.
The Social Pillar: Social sustainability focuses on the support and approval of its employees, stakeholders and the community it operates in who can help business in a number of ways like raising internal moral and employee engagement, improving risk management, unlocking new markets etc.
The Economic Pillar: Economic sustainability is the practices that support long term economic growth without negatively affecting social, environmental and cultural aspects of the community. This pillar focuses on certain activities such as compliance, proper governance, risk management etc.
What are the sustainable practices in textile industry?
Sustainable textile means the production process that will be made environmentally friendly meaning all materials and processes, input and outputs will be healthy and safe for people and the environment at all stages of the life cycle. Production and processing of sustainable textiles which come from renewable or recycled sources not only help to reduce the negative impacts to the environment but also supports millions of workers to earn fair and ensure proper working conditions.
Sustainability need in textile industry
- The use of natural resources has been increasing over the last few years.
- Chemicals used in textile industry have led to an increase in water pollution which is currently leading to water scarcity.
- Textiles consume large amount of fossil fuels during wet treatment. Fossil fuels contain large amount of carbon and react with oxygen to form carbon dioxide which increases the amount of global warming in the world.
- Apparel industries also need to eliminate environmental hazards and improve process efficiency.
How sustainability can be achieved in textile industry
1) Material selection
Sustainable textiles start with sustainable materials. Sustainable clothing materials refer to fabric that comes from eco friendly resources like rayon, viscose, modal etc and natural materials. Natural materials are tending to be much more sustainable. Some of the most popular natural materials used in the garment industry are cotton, wool, linen, hemp, mulberry and ramie. Organic fabrics are recyclable and biodegradable.
The eco-design approach takes into account all possible factors, for example ecological, recyclable, ergonomics, environmental friendliness which can affect the environment. It refers to design of products with less environmental damage and also increases the aesthetic and functional properties of a product. Recently, there has been a measured movement in the promotion of eco design approaches in the fashion industry.
3) Eco-friendly alternatives to traditional production
There are environmentally friendly alternatives that are being used by textile companies to solve the environmental problems. Such alternatives include:
- Whitening (water saving air dyeing, laser whitening, ozone whitening and finishing)
- Printing (digital printing technology)
- Mercerization(electrochemical cell mercerization)
- Waste free fashion design, seamless knitting technology and integrated 3D design technology.
- Alternate wet process methods (chlorine-free bleaching, cold or low temperature dye processes, dye bath reuse, eco bleach, Ink-jet printing, vegetable tanning, waste water recycling)
Sustainable packaging implies packaging that incorporates the three principle of sustainability reduce-reuse-recycle. The main goal of sustainable packaging is to do as little harm to the environment as possible. This can be achieved by using recycled material or creating special packaging functionality.
5) Supply chain
An integral part of the company is the supply chain management that is required for the company’s success and customer satisfaction. Good analytic and reporting work with machine learning to continually improve processes throughout the supply chain.
Transportation of textile industry may take place through air travel, water, by ship, by rail, on the road, pipeline, using planes, boats, and telecommunications equipment as the means of transportation. Transportation process consumes energy, which leads to the depletion of natural resources and emissions of carbon dioxide which in turn negatively affects the environment.
The textile industry does not respond entirely to the threats including the increase of utility cost, special skilled manpower, an increase in labor cost, climate change, resource scarcity, vulnerable economic conditions and so on. So, the future challenge is to understand these threats and take appropriate action to safeguard its future, protect the environment and improve the lives of its customers, workers and suppliers around the world.
To sustain the textile sector in the near future, we must focus on sustainability in textile industry by improving resource productivity, co-efficiency, cost efficiency, customer satisfaction, brand reputation, environmental conditions etc and ensuring better health conditions of the wearers and the workers.