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Environmental impacts of textile industries

Authors:
  • Sona College of Technology, Salem, India
  • Indian Institute of Handloom Technology
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General
Environmental impacts of textile industries
Significant financial saving and environmental improvements can be made by relatively low-cost and
straightforward interventions in the textile industry, and this improves the quality of products and minimises the
cost of production, say C Parvathi, T Maruthavanan and C Prakash.
Textile processing industry is characterised not only by the large volume of water required
for various unit operations but also by the variety of chemicals used for various processes.
There is a long sequence of wet processing stages requiring inputs of water, chemical and
energy and generating wastes at each stage. The other feature of this industry, which is a
backbone of fashion garment, is large variation in demand of type, pattern and colour
combination of fabric resulting into significant fluctuation in waste generation volume and
load. Textile processing generates many waste streams, including liquid, gaseous and solid
wastes, some of which may be hazardous. The nature of the waste generated depends on
the type of textile facility, the processes and technologies being operated, and the types of
fibres and chemicals used. The overview on the amounts of waste generated within the
textile processes are summarised in Table 1.
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Textile industry overview
The textile industry is a significant contributor to many national economies, encompassing both small and large-scale
operations worldwide. In terms of its output or production and employment, the textile industry is one of the largest industries
in the world.
The textile manufacturing process is characterised by the high consumption of resources
like water, fuel and a variety of chemicals in a long process sequence that generates a
significant amount of waste. The common practices of low process efficiency result in
substantial wastage of resources and a severe damage to the environment. The main
environmental problems associated with textile industry are typically those associated with
water body pollution caused by the discharge of untreated effluents. Other environmental
issues of equal importance are air emission, notably Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)’s
and excessive noise or odour as well as workspace safety.
Air
pollution
Most processes performed in textile mills produce atmospheric emissions. Gaseous emissions have been identified as the
second greatest pollution problem (after effluent quality) for the textile industry. Speculation concerning the amounts and
types of air pollutants emitted from textile operations has been widespread but, generally, air emission data for textile
manufacturing operations are not readily available. Air pollution is the most difficult type of pollution to sample, test, and
quantify in an audit.
Air emissions can be classified according to the nature of their sources:
Point sources:
• Boilers
• Ovens
• Storage tanks
Diffusive:
• Solvent-based
• Wastewater treatment
• Warehouses
• Spills
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Textile mills usually generate nitrogen and sulphur oxides from boilers. Other significant
sources of air emissions in textile operations include resin finishing and drying operations,
printing, dyeing, fabric preparation, and wastewater treatment plants. Hydrocarbons are
emitted from drying ovens and from mineral oils in high-temperature drying/curing. These
processes can emit formaldehyde, acids, softeners, and other volatile compounds.
Residues from fibre preparation sometimes emit pollutants during heat setting processes.
Carriers and solvents may be emitted during dyeing operations depending on the types of
dyeing processes used and from wastewater treatment plant operations. Carriers used in
batch dyeing of disperse dyes may lead to volatilisation of aqueous chemical emulsions
during heat setting, drying, or curing stages. Acetic acid and formaldehyde are two major emissions of concern in textiles.
The major sources of air pollution in the textile industry are summarised in Table 2.
Water pollution
The textile industry uses high
volumes of water throughout its
operations, from the washing of
fibres to bleaching,dyeing and
washing of finished products. On
average, approximately 200
litres of water are required to
produce l kg of textiles (Table
3). The large volumes of
wastewater generated also
contain a wide variety of chemicals, used throughout processing.
These can cause damage if not properly treated before being
discharged into the environment. Of all the steps involved in
textiles processing, wet processing creates the highest volume of
wastewater.
The aquatic toxicity of textile industry wastewater varies
considerably among production facilities. The sources of aquatic
toxicity can include salt, surfactants, ionic metals and their metal
complexes, toxic organic chemicals, biocides and toxic anions. Most textile dyes have low aquatic toxicity. On the other
hand, surfactants and related compounds, such as detergents, emulsifiers and dispersants are used in almost each textile
process and can be an important contributor to effluent aquatic toxicity, BOD and foaming.
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Solid waste pollution
The primary residual wastes
generated from the textile industry are
non-hazardous. These include scraps
of fabric and yarn, off-specification
yarn and fabric and packaging waste.
There are also wastes associated with
the storage and production of yarns
and textiles, such as chemical storage
drums, cardboard reels for storing
fabric and cones used to hold yarns
for dyeing and knitting. Cutting room waste generates a high volume of
fabric scraps, which can often be reduced by increasing fabric utilisation
efficiency in cutting and sewing.
Table 4 summarises solid wastes associated with various textile
manufacturing processes.
Conclusion
Cleaner production is an attractive approach to tackle environmental
problems associated with industrial production and poor material
efficiency. Since the cleaner production approach has been successfully
implemented in some areas in the textile sector, it shows that significant
financial saving and environmental improvements can be made by
relatively low-cost and straightforward interventions. This improves the
quality of products and minimises the cost of production, enabling the
branch to compete in the global market. Moreover, Cleaner Production
also improves the company’s public image by highlighting the steps it
has taken to protect the environment.
Note: For detailed version of this article please refer the print version of The Indian Textile Journal November 2009 issue.
C Parvathi
Department of Chemistry
Knowledge Institute of Technology
Kakapalayam
Salem 637 504.
T Maruthavanan
Department of Chemistry (SONA STARCH)
Sona College of Technology
Salem.
C Prakash
Department of Fashion Technology
Sona College of Technology
Salem.
published November , 2009
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... Stricter regulations are brought mainly in the developed countries so that the polluter bears the cost of sustainability. Besides, social sustainability issues caused by environmental degradation is an area that requires significant attention (Mukherjee, 2015;Parvathi et al., 2009). Academic studies (e.g., Huq, Chowdhury, & Klassen, 2016;Huq & Stevenson, 2018;Huq, Stevenson, & Zorzini, 2014) also identified that there is an urgent need for a more sustainability-based practice in the TC industry. ...
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Chapter
The textile industry is responsible for a large amount of production to cater to the clothing needs of the world. Products have been manufactured with great scope for marketability and function that range from basic needs to luxury demands. In an effort to improve the human standard of living and style, these efforts have been undertaken but ironically the wastewater serves as pollutants and hazards to the environment that in turn will invalidate the wanted standard of living. Many industries have been emptying the process and product effluent into landfills and water bodies causing severe effects on the environment and safety of all living organisms. During the last few decades, environmental problems have become a major issue and environmental and health legislations have come into vogue all around the globe. Market forces have seriously impacted the environmental policies and sustainable textile manufacture and fashion have created a growing awareness among all—raw material cultivator to the end personnel of the supply chain. As part of the sustainable effort, this chapter deals with the impact caused by textile manufacture, sustainable methods, and case studies of textile processes and production that have brought about a change in the amount of wastewater produced or treatment of textile wastewater for reuse through recycling methods. The reducing freshwater resource and its increasing demand call for responsible water management by the adoption of clean technologies, waste minimization initiatives, and effective water reuse treatment with optimum operating costs.
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