Production of almost any kind of industrial product uses and releases substances that may be harmful for humans and the environment. Unfortunately, the textile industry is one of the largest contributors to water pollution in the world. This pollution happens all along the supply chain, starting from chemical pesticides and fertilizers used on cotton fields, to toxic substances used to dye, wash and condition fabric in factories, to microplastics released when washed in a laundry machine by the consumer. These substances can harm the environment, destroy livelihoods of vulnerable people and cause serious health issues.
In order to regulate and minimise water pollution in the textile and apparel industry, several standards and guidelines have been
developed. Besides national legislations, transnational initiatives also advocate or certify sustainable waste water management in industrial production.
Examples here are Sustainable Development Goals, Bluesign, Oeko-Tex and many more. The Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) is an important
document to guide businesses to better chemical management.
Responsible waste water management is implemented in every partner factory of Sustainable Pakistan. This includes both reduction of toxic
substances and cleaning of contaminated waste water. All Sustainable Pakistan partners have an Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) on-site, which cleans
contaminated waste water from the factory processes. This way, no harmful substances leave the premises, and pose zero risk to the environment.
All factories follow the guidelines by Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC). This includes three aspects: inputs, processes, and outputs . On the one hand,
harmful substances are avoided as far as possible as material of the product. Instead safer materials are used. The safer the substances that are put into the
product, the less work needs to be done to prevent output of harmful substances at the end of the production process. On top of that, smart processes and chemical
management can minimise the risks associated with hazardous substances. Lastly, any remaining harmful chemicals are diluted and filtered out on-site in order to
ensure no hazards are released into the waste water system or contaminate the environment.
Training, certification, and innovation
With workshops and training provided by CSI and GIZ, the factories have access to resources that empower them to implement efficient and sustainable waste water management. Besides that, they are supported to acquire relevant certifications. Innovative product design and processes also achieve a minimization of waste water. Many factories even recycle waste water on-site to further reduce their water use and impact on the environment.
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