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Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry and Its Assessment Through Life Cycle Assessment


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The textile industry is considered as ecologically one of the most polluting industries in the world. The issues which make the life cycles of textiles and clothing unsustainable are the use of harmful chemicals, high consumption of water and energy, generation of large quantities of solid and gaseous wastes, huge fuel consumption for transportation to remote places where textile units are located, and use of non-biodegradable packaging materials. The overall impact on the environment by a textile product or process may be best assessed by life cycle assessment (LCA) which is a systematic scientific approach to examine the environmental impacts of the entire life cycle of a product or service.
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Textile Science and Clothing Technology
Roadmap to Sustainable Textiles and Clothing
Environmental and Social Aspects of Textiles and
Clothing Supply Chain
Subramanian Senthilkannan Muthu
ISBN: 978-981-287-109-1 (Print) 978-981-287-110-7
Table of contents (10 chapters)
Book Chapters
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry and Its Assessment Through Life
Cycle Assessment
A. K. Roy Choudhury Pages 1-39
Environmentally Sustainable Clothing Consumption: Knowledge, Attitudes, and
Kim Y. Hiller Connell, Joy M. Kozar Pages 41-61
Emerging Green Technologies and Environment Friendly Products for Sustainable
Shahid-ul-Islam, Faqeer Mohammad Pages 63-82
Biodegradation Studies of Textiles and Clothing Products
Sohel Rana, Subramani Pichandi, Shama Parveen, Raul Fangueiro Pages 83-123
Responsibility Without Means
Kirsi Laitala, Marthe Hårvik Austgulen, Ingun Grimstad Klepp Pages 125-151
Environmental Analysis of Textile Value Chain: An Overview
T. Karthik, D. Gopalakrishnan Pages 153-188
Who Influence the Environmental Adaptation Process of Small and Medium Sized
Textile and Garment Companies in Vietnam?
Nga H. Nguyen, Robert J. S. Beeton, Anthony Halog Pages 189-207
The SURF Framework Applied to the Textile Industry
Marilyn Waite Pages 209-226
Sustainable Business Development Through Designing Approaches for Fashion
Value Chains
Rudrajeet Pal Pages 227-261
Eco-friendly Coloration and Functionalization of Textile Using Plant Extracts
Kartick K. Samanta, S. Basak, S. K. Chattopadhyay Pages 263-287
Environmental Impacts of the Textile
Industry and Its Assessment Through
Life Cycle Assessment
A. K. Roy Choudhury
Abstract The textile industry is considered as ecologically one of the most pol-
luting industries in the world. The issues which make the life cycles of textiles and
clothing unsustainable are the use of harmful chemicals, high consumption of
water and energy, generation of large quantities of solid and gaseous wastes, huge
fuel consumption for transportation to remote places where textile units are
located, and use of non-biodegradable packaging materials. The overall impact on
the environment by a textile product or process may be best assessed by life cycle
assessment (LCA) which is a systematic scientific approach to examine the
environmental impacts of the entire life cycle of a product or service.
Keywords Water pollution Harmful chemicals Waste generation Reuse and
recycle Restricted substances list
1 The Textile Industry
The global supply of manufactured fibers and the major natural fibers increased
from 52.6 million tons in 2000 to 70.5 million tons in 2008, corresponding to an
average annual growth rate of 3.3 % [67]. During that period, the share of the
manufactured fibers increased from 59 to 63 %. Lenzing [57] reports that the
global fiber usage in 2011 totaled more than 51 million metric tons of manufac-
tured fibers and nearly 30 million metric tons of natural fibers, a record total
representing a 1 % increase over 2010 fiber usage, and a per capita consumption of
nearly 12 kg. Over the last 3–4 years, manufactured fiber usage has steadily
A. K. Roy Choudhury (&)
Government College of Engineering and Textile Technology Serampore,
Hooghly, Serampore 712201, West Bengal, India
S. S. Muthu (ed.), Roadmap to Sustainable Textiles and Clothing,
Textile Science and Clothing Technology, DOI: 10.1007/978-981-287-110-7_1,
Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2014
increased, while natural fiber usage has either remained flat or has begun to
Among the developing economies, China and India are expected to represent 45
and 20 % of global trade by 2014. Growth of new consumption markets, global
expansion of modern retail business, booms in air and sea shipment, growth of
textile and related production in Eastern Europe, the ex-Russian block, Turkey, the
Middle East, Southeast Asia, India, China, and South America are all expected to
drive growth in the global textile industry in the long term with Bangladesh,
Vietnam, India, Cambodia, and Pakistan playing key roles [36].
Taking the textile and apparel sectors together, China has been the world’s
leading exporter of textiles and clothing since 1995. The EU, the United States,
India, Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam all rank among the top
15 exporters of textiles and clothing, according to the WTO trade statistics 2010 [6].
2 Structure of the Textile Industry
The majority of chemical use in textile production occurs during ‘wet processing’,
i.e., in dyeing, washing, printing, and fabric finishing. Textile dyeing and finishing
mills use considerably more water—as much as 200 tons of water for every metric
ton of textiles produced.
Many of the chemicals used in textile production are non-hazardous, and only a
relatively small proportion is potentially hazardous. However, in absolute terms,
quite a large number of hazardous chemicals are used in textile production because
of the very large number of chemicals deployed [46].
For example, the Swedish Chemical Agency has estimated that there are over
10,000 substances which can be used in dyeing and printing processes alone, about
3,000 of which are commonly used. The availability of such a large number of
chemicals for use by industry poses obvious difficulties when it comes to sharing
and maintaining information about them, as well as drawing up and enforcing
regulations for their use [86].
The global textile supply chain is complex, involving many different stages and
people. Multinational brand owners may contract suppliers directly or indirectly,
through agents or importers. Normally it is the brand owner who triggers the
product development process, including research and design. Brand owners are
therefore best placed to bring about change in the production of textiles and
clothing through their choices of suppliers, the design of their products, and the
control they can exert over the use of chemicals in the production process and the
final product [37].
A simplified textile product chain is shown in Fig. 1[76]. For LCI analyses,
environmental data and process inputs and outputs have to be collected. The major
participants in the textile and clothing supply chain are multinational brand
owners, raw material suppliers, textile and clothing producers, financiers, retailers,
and customers.
2 A. K. Roy Choudhury
Figure 2shows the main organizations involved in the textile and clothing
supply chain, excluding the brand owners. Companies are sometimes responsible
for more than one link in the supply chain; for example, the brand owner and
retailer may be the same company, or the brand owner may have its own in-house
production chain. The complexities of the supply chain inevitably lead to lack of
transparency about the various steps involved in the manufacture of products and
their potential environmental impacts [19].
3 Pollution and Textile Manufacture
A recent survey [37] of 15,000 people in 15 countries, across both the northern and
southern hemispheres, found that the water scarcity and water pollution are two
top environmental concerns of the world’s population. China has some of the worst
water pollution in the world, with as much as 70 % of its rivers, lakes, and
Fig. 1 Simplified flow
diagram of textile supply
chain [76]
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 3
reservoirs being affected, and the textile industry, an important sector of China’s
economy, with more than 50,000 textile mills in the country, contributes to this
pollution. Building upon investigations by Greenpeace International, the report
‘Dirty Laundry’ profiles the problem of toxic-water pollution that results from the
release of hazardous chemicals by the textile industry in China, water pollution
which poses serious and immediate threats to both ecosystems and human health.
The investigations forming the basis of this report focus on wastewater discharges
from two facilities in China. Significantly, hazardous and persistent chemicals with
hormone-disrupting properties were found in the samples.
Alkylphenols, including nonylphenol (NP), were found in wastewater samples
from both facilities, and perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), in particular perflu-
orooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate, were present in the
wastewater from the Youngor Textile Complex, despite the presence of a modern
wastewater treatment plant. The two facilities have commercial relationships (as
suppliers) with a number of other Chinese and international brands [29].
New research commissioned by Greenpeace International [38] shows that
residues of the hazardous chemicals NP ethoxylates (NPEs)—used in textile
manufacturing—remain in many clothing items sold by major international
clothing brands and, when washed, a significant percentage of the chemicals in
these clothes is released and subsequently discharged into rivers, lakes, and seas,
where they turn into the even more toxic and hormone-disrupting chemical NP.
The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a leading environmental
nongovernmental organization (NGO) in China, has released the second in a series
of exposures about the severe water pollution problems caused by textile dyeing
and finishing in China. The latest report criticizes brands such as Marks and
Spencer, Disney, Polo Ralph Lauren, JC Penney, and Tommy Hilfiger, but also
notes that H&M, Nike, Esquel, Levi’s, Adidas, Walmart, Burberry, and Gap have
Yarn formation
Fiber Preparation
Fabric Formation
Wet processing
Textile Producers Clothing Clothing
Manufacturers Retailers
(Traders, merchants & agents involved at various stages)
Chemical Industry
Man-Made Fibers
Dyestuff and Chemical
Natural Fibers
Farmers and Growers
Multinational/Local Suppliers - Pesticides, Fertilisers and Seeds
Fig. 2 The businesses involved in the textile and clothing supply chain
4 A. K. Roy Choudhury
proactively followed up on its first report earlier this year and established regular
screening mechanisms on textile dye house suppliers [59].
The modern textile industry has migrated from one region or country to another.
Most of this migration has been driven by one factor, the need to cut costs.
Although large-scale pollution from the textile industry has been a problem
throughout its history, the more recent use of persistent and hazardous chemicals
poses a greater, and often invisible, threat to ecosystems and human health.
Referring to all industries, the United Nations Environment Program stated:
‘Worldwide, it is estimated that industry is responsible for dumping
300–500 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other waste into
waters each year’ [64]. When considering both the volume generated and the
effluent composition, textile wastewater is considered to be the most polluted of all
the industrial sectors [99]; with a complex global textile supply chain, involving
many different stages and often several companies, brand owners may therefore be
the best placed to bring about the required change.
Launched in July 2011, the Detox campaign [12], introduced by Greenpeace
International, has exposed links between textile manufacturing facilities causing
toxic water pollution in China and many of the world’s top clothing brands. The
Detox campaign is powered by more than half a million people, demanding toxic-
free fashion and clean water. Fifteen global fashion leaders have committed to
Detox in response to the growing international campaign (Nike, Adidas, Puma,
H&M, M&S, C&A, Li-Ning, Zara, Mango, Esprit, Levi’s, Uniqlo, Benetton,
Victoria’s Secret, G-Star Raw, and Valentino), but other clothing companies, such
as Calvin Klein, GAP, and Abercrombie & Fitch still needed to respond.
4 Sustainability in Textile Manufacture
The textile industry has been cited as the most ecologically harmful industry in the
world [66], whilst an argument said that water pollution is a major issue in China
and that its textile industry, a large water user, has traditionally experienced
wastewater problems [33]. In some cases, wastewaters are discharged (largely
untreated) into groundwater with extreme pH values and temperatures as well as
high chemical loading.
The following areas have the potential to make the life cycles of textiles and
clothing unsustainable [81]:
1. Use of toxic chemicals
2. Consumption of water
3. Consumption of energy
4. Generation of waste
5. Air emissions
6. Transportation
7. Packing materials
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 5
4.1 Usage of Chemicals
About 25 % of the global production of chemicals is used in the textile industry
globally [37]. As many as 2000 different chemicals are used in textile processing,
especially in textile wet processing, and many of these are known to be harmful to
human (and animal) health. Some of these chemicals evaporate, some are dis-
solved in treatment water which is discharged into the environment, and some are
retained in the fabric. A list of the most commonly used chemicals, some of which
are involved in fabric production, and linked to human health problems varying
from annoying to profound, have been published by the National Institute for
Environmental Health Sciences (part of the US Department of Health and Human
Services) [63].
The chemicals causing particular concern when released into the environment
display one or more of the following properties:
Persistence (they do not readily break down in the environment)
Bio-accumulation (they can accumulate in organisms, and even increase in
concentration as they work their way up a food chain)
Chemicals with these properties are described as PBTs (persistent, bio-accu-
mulative, and toxic substances). Organic chemicals with these properties are
sometimes referred to as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Despite initial
dilution in large volumes of water or air, such pollutants can persist long enough in
the receiving environment to be transported over long distances, to concentrate in
sediments and organisms, and some can cause significant harm even at what may
appear to be very low concentrations.
The acceptability of all of the chemicals used in the textile industry, in terms of
being eco-friendly, is difficult to determine. One difficulty, for example, is that a
large number of dyes are used in the dyeing and printing of textiles; the Colour
Index International (The Society of Dyers and Colourists, Bradford, UK. Http:// lists 27,000 individual products under 13,000 Color Index
Generic Names. Volatile chemicals pose particular problems because they evap-
orate into the air or are absorbed into foods or through the skin. Some chemicals
are carcinogenic or may cause harm to children, even before birth, while others
may trigger allergic reactions in some people. Some reporters predict that the
5–10 % of the population allergic to chemicals will grow to 60 % by 2020 [80].
Various toxicity-reduction evaluations in North Carolina, conducted between 1985
and 1995, found recurrence of compounds identified as toxic agents [70], many of
which were related to wet processing. A short, non-exhaustive list of such toxic
compounds is given in Table 1.
Once identified, specific, identifiable compounds such as tributyltin oxide
(TBTO), a biocidal preservative for cotton textiles, could be removed from the
discharge waste stream or replaced with less toxic alternatives. Other, less specific
compounds were more difficult to trace and eliminate.
6 A. K. Roy Choudhury
Non-ionic surfactants pose a particular problem. Surfactants slow to degrade
cause acute and chronic toxicity effects. Understanding their rate of biodegrad-
ability is a key factor in the treatment of effluents, as the only available options are
either longer treatment times or substituting more rapidly degradable surfactants. It
is estimated that there are over 500 unique non-ionic surfactants used in textile
processing, and environmental data are scarce for these compounds. NPs and
nonylphenol ethoxylates have been restricted in the EU as a hazard to human and
environmental safety [30].
Sodium chloride and sodium sulfate, which are used as exhausting agents in the
direct dyeing of cotton, also present a particular problem. These substances are
particularly problematic in areas where the natural flows in the receiving streams
were very small in relation to the discharge flows of the POTW. There still remains
no practical treatment to remove these salts from textile wastewaters and, thus far,
the only way to resolve the issue has been to dilute the effluent. The problem can,
however, be minimized by using low-salt reactive dyes or adopting pad application
methods. Copper was found to be present in many blue and black dyes with ‘free,’
noncomplexed copper acting as the immediate toxic agent; hence, their screening
and the development of copper-free dyes was encouraged.
Even after eliminating several specific toxic compounds, there still remain a
large group of textile chemicals called wet-processing auxiliaries. These ‘name-
brand’ products are composed of complex mixtures of surfactants, softening
agents, solvents, chelating agents, and water-based polymers. Most of these
products are mixtures designed to perform a certain task in the preparation, dyeing,
or finishing of textiles. Because of both the huge variety and different concen-
trations of chemicals which can be used in these products, there are significant
difficulties in identifying the components of these mixtures, a problem exaggerated
as producers keep the ingredients a trade secret. The lingering question is how to
determine the relative environmental impacts of these products so that the end-
user, the textile industry, can choose greener products and improve the environ-
mental quality of the water being discharged from the textile facility.
Table 1 List of a few popular but toxic textile chemicals and their fields of application
Name of toxic chemical Used as/in
Tri-butyl tin oxide (TBTO) Biocide on hosiery and fabrics
Non-ionic surfactants Detergents in textile preparation and dyeing
Cationic surfactants Textile dyeing and finishing
Sodium chloride Dyeing of cotton textiles
Sodium sulfate Dyeing of cotton textiles
Copper Dyeing of cotton and polyamide; in its elemental,
non-complexed form, it is toxic
Cyanide Anti-caking agent in salt
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 7
4.2 Consumption of Water
Clean water is both essential to the planet’s ecosystems and fundamental to
people’s well-being. It is a basic human right. Waterways such as rivers and lakes
supply communities with vital resources, including drinking water, water for crop
irrigation, and foods such as fish and shellfish. These waterways also serve as a
support system for industrial activity, providing water for many manufacturing and
cooling processes. However, such industrial activities can affect water quality and
thereby jeopardise the other resources which rivers and lakes provide. Globally,
water resources are being degraded by the increasing pressure of human activities.
Economic and population growth places ever-greater demands on water supplies,
reducing the quantity and quality of water available for wildlife, ecosystem
function, and human consumption. Clean water is a finite resource which is
becoming scarce, and it is used at every step of the wet-processing sequence both
to convey the chemicals into the material and to wash them out before the
beginning of the next step. Once charged with chemical additives, the water is
expelled as wastewater, which, if untreated, may pollute the environment ther-
mally by virtue of the high temperature of the effluent, extreme pH, and/or con-
tamination with dyes, diluents of dyes, auxiliaries, bleaches, detergents, optical
brighteners, and many other chemicals used during textile processing [66].
Problems become worse when there is inappropriate or incomplete effluent
treatment or a discharge of polluted water directly without treatment, leading to
polluted surface waters and polluted aquifers, i.e., layers of earth or rock con-
taining water [53,80]. As a result, any heavy metal constituents in effluents lead to
pollution with both negative ecological impacts on the water-body environment
and deterioration of human health.
The textile and related industries are considered by some to be the second
highest consumer and polluter of clean water next to agriculture [66]. The textile
services sector is an essential adjunct to the textile industry and is needed to
manufacture, finish, market, and distribute the products [89]; the services related to
the textile industry include computer-aided design, contract quilting, contract yarn
spinning, custom printing, fabric welding, silk screen printing, textile designers
services, contract knitting, contract sewing, custom embroidery, custom slitting,
pleating, specialty weaving, contract napping, contract weaving, custom perfo-
rating, custom swatching, private labeling, testing of the end product, etc. [88].
Water is used in various steps during the textile dyeing process both to convey the
chemicals used during the step and to wash them out before the beginning of the
next step. In a traditional dyeing and finishing operation, for example, 1 ton of
fabric could result in the pollution of up to 200 tons of water by a suite of harmful
chemicals and, in the process, consumes large amounts of energy for steam and hot
water [61]. With the industry now centered in countries with still-developing
environmental regulatory systems, such as China, India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam,
textile manufacturing continues to have a huge environmental footprint. Some
commonly observed routes of wastage of water [66] are:
8 A. K. Roy Choudhury
Excessive use of water in washing
Poor housekeeping measures such as broken or missing valves
Unattended leaks through pipes and hoses
Instances when cooling waters are left running even after shutdown of the
Use of inefficient washing equipment
Excessively long washing cycles
Use of fresh water at all points of water use
The reutilization of wastewater can present very important savings, namely in
reduction of water, energy, and chemical consumption. The recycling of waste-
water is effected in process baths and rinsing waters, before fresh water is taken for
treatment for removal of remaining chemicals and other effluents generated. Steam
condensate and cooling water are easily recoverable as they are clean and recovery
of their thermal energy can very quickly pay back the investment.
Techniques and technologies of implementing energy management, including
heat recovery, in the use of steam in the textile industry vary extensively in terms
of the scope of their application, their costs, and their benefits. The case of the
textile dyeing and finishing industry in Mauritius has been investigated thoroughly
by Elahee [20]. energy management was applied to optimize the use of steam in
dyeing and finishing plants. The state of energy management in the dyeing and
finishing industry had similarities with that of its European or North American
counterparts before the oil crisis of the 1970s. The dyeing and finishing industry in
Mauritius consumed about 35,000 tons oil equivalent annually for steam genera-
tion, mostly in the form of fuel oil and coal. The potential reduction in fossil fuel
consumption was about 35 % in small textile dyeing and finishing plants and 25 %
in large ones. Out of the latter, 15 and 10 %, respectively, of the fossil fuel
consumption can be saved with heat recovery, that is, essentially with low cost,
short payback energy-saving measures.
The introduction of low cost techniques and technologies should yield signif-
icant reduction in steam consumption in plants, where energy management has not
been applied before. This is the case for many African countries where the dyeing
and finishing industry is new. Although new technology is relatively expensive, its
benefits extend far beyond savings in energy. Quality, productivity, and response-
time gains as well as environmental benefits are significant.
If properly applied, the overall payback for investment in such technology can
be reduced to not more than 2 years. However, investing in such technology is not
without risks, particularly in view of the fact that these are not easily set up in
developing countries. In almost all cases know-how transfer and ancillary costs
should be duly considered. The progress of such technology should also not be at
the expense of indigenous techniques and technologies. Examples from the past
show that there is significant scope to reduce production costs related to steam in
textile dyeing and finishing plants in developing countries, including African
countries. In most cases, no significant investment is needed and local indigenous
technology and skills can be employed. The payback is normally less than 2 years.
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 9
Heat recovery, in particular, improves profitability and competitiveness on the
international markets. Reduced reliance on imported fossil fuel is achievable,
hence keeping the industry safe from rising oil or coal prices. The reduction in
global and local pollution is also an important benefit. This will help to make the
textile industry a pillar of sustainable development of these countries, many
already producing high quality raw materials. Consequently, their chances of
pursuing socioeconomic progress coupled with environmental protection will be
much improved [21].
Pattanapunt et al. [71] studied how to recover heat waste from boiler exhaust
gas by mean of a shell and tube heat exchanger. By processing the exhaust gas
from the boiler dyeing process, which carries a large amount of heat, energy
consumption can be decreased by using waste-heat recovery systems. The varia-
tions of parameters which affect system performance, such as exhaust gas and air
temperature, velocity and mass flow rate, and moisture content are examined
respectively. From this study it was found that heat exchangers could reduce the
temperature of exhaust gases and emission to the atmosphere and payback time is
very fast. The payback period was determined to be about 6 months for the
investigated ANSYS.
4.2.1 Wastewater Pollutants
In the future, water is set to become an increasingly scarce and therefore extremely
valuable resource. Demand for water is growing at more than twice the rate at
which the world’s population is growing. Over the past 100 years, the world’s
population has increased threefold, while water consumption has risen by a factor
of seven. Since 1970, the available amount of water per capita has been reduced by
40 % as a result.
It takes approximately 2,500–3,000 L of water to manufacture a single cotton
shirt. The bulk of this water is required to grow the cotton, followed in second
place by the wet finishing process. The first consequences of water shortages and
wastewater problems are already starting to be felt in the textile finishing industry.
For example, new companies in China and India have not been granted approval to
set up operations if they have not been able to present a convincing case to the
authorities that their approach will help solve issues of water consumption and
wastewater. In Europe, companies face closure for the same reason. Textile centers
in Asia are reporting rapidly dwindling groundwater reserves and heavily salinated
groundwater. As a result, many companies face challenges which threaten their
very existence. A case study has been performed to understand how a traditional
finishing plant performs, and what can be achieved through modernization [90].
Some wastewater is still being disposed of in an environmentally unfriendly
way, into the sewage networks where available, or else into cesspools, without
regard to the BOD, chemical oxygen demand (COD), and/or the heavy metal
content of the wastewater. The untreated wastewater generated from textile pro-
duction and processing can vary greatly depending on the chemicals and treatment
10 A. K. Roy Choudhury
processes involved and may include materials with a high BOD and COD, high
total suspended solids (SS), oil and grease, sulfides, sulfates, phosphates, chro-
mium, copper, and/or the salts of other heavy metals; of these, the most important
are considered to be COD, biological oxygen demand (BOD), pH, fats, oil,
nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfates, and SS [95,96]. Total SS levels are low in raw
textile dyeing wastewater compared to wastewater from many other industries. On
the other hand, BOD and COD are relatively high in effluents from sizing oper-
ations and wet processing, and are therefore more important pollution-prevention
targets [101]. Sulfates and phosphates are toxic at very high concentrations.
Problems caused by sulfates are most frequently related to their ability to form
strong acids which change the pH, whereas, in surface waters, phosphates cause
4.3 Consumption of Energy
The textile industry is a major energy-consuming industry with low efficiency in
energy utilization [62]. About 23 % of the total energy used is consumed in
weaving, 34 % in spinning, 38 % in chemical processing, and another 5 % for
miscellaneous purposes. Thermal energy dominates in chemical processing, being
used mainly for heating water and drying textile materials, whilst electrical power
dominates the energy consumption pattern in spinning and weaving [77].
The textile industry is one of the largest generators of GHGs (greenhouse
gases), not least because of its enormous size. In 2008, the annual global pro-
duction of textiles was estimated at 60 billion kg of fabric with the associated
(estimated) energy and water needs of 1,074 billion kWh of electricity (or
132 million tons of coal) and 6–9 trillion L of water, respectively (Tex- [90]). A large quantity of non-renewable energy sources is even-
tually consumed in the form of electricity, not so much in the process of textile
production (15–20 %) but mostly in subsequent laundering processes during
consumer use (75–80 %) [81]. It is reported [74] that the total thermal energy
required per meter of cloth (including both production and consumer use) is
18.8–23 MJ and the electrical energy required per meter of cloth is
0.45–0.55 kWh. Whilst data on energy usage for the textile industry are readily
available, complications arise in estimating the associated CO
emissions arising
from the sources (coal, electricity, natural gas, or other sources) from which the
energy is produced because the textile industry is a fragmented and heterogeneous
sector dominated by small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Energy is one of the main cost factors in the textile industry. Especially in times
of high energy price volatility, improving energy efficiency should be a primary
concern for textile plants, and various energy-efficiency opportunities exist in
every textile plant, many of which are cost-effective but not implemented because
of limited information or high initial cost. For example, the use of electricity for
heating is associated with in-built inefficiencies as compared with the direct use of
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 11
thermal energy, and the use of steam is less efficient than direct-fired gas heating in
a mill. The share of the total manufacturing energy consumed by the textile
industry in a particular country depends upon the structure of the manufacturing
sector in that country. For instance, the textile industry accounts for about 4 % of
the final energy use in manufacturing in China [55], while this share is less than
2 % in the United States [100].
Electricity is the main energy consumed in the textile industry, being used for
driving machinery, cooling, temperature control, lighting, and office equipment,
whereas fuel oil, liquefied petroleum gas, coal, and city gas are widely used to
generate steam. Efficiencies have been achieved; between 1990 and 2005, the carbon
emission intensity in the textile industry decreased for gray cloth, jute goods, and
polyester chips by 1.90, 2.07, and 0.72 %, respectively. On the other hand, cotton
yarn showed the highest increase in emission intensity of 7.37 %, meaning that
cotton yarn continued to be produced inefficiently [18]. Emission intensity is the
average emission rate of a given pollutant from a given source relative to the
intensity of a specific activity, for example, grams of carbon dioxide released per
megajoule of energy produced or the ratio of GHG emissions produced to GDP.
Emission intensities are used to derive estimates of air pollutants or GHG
emissions based on the amount of fuel combusted, the number of animals in animal
husbandry, industrial production levels, distances travelled, or similar activity
data. Emission intensities may also be used to compare the environmental impact
of different fuels or activities. The related terms, emission factor and carbon
intensity, are often used interchangeably, but ‘factors’ exclude aggregate activities
such as GDP, and ‘carbon’ excludes other pollutants [104].
Spinning consumes the greatest share of electricity (41 %) followed by weaving
(including weaving preparation) (18 %), whereas wet-processing preparation
(desizing, bleaching) and finishing together consume the greatest share of thermal
energy (35 %). A significant amount of thermal energy is also lost during steam
generation and distribution (35 %), but these percentages vary from plant to plant.
Such analysis of energy efficiency improvement opportunities in the textile
industry points to advantages to be gained from retrofit/process optimization, not
just from complete replacement of current machinery with state-of-the-art new
technology [44]. Table 2shows the average values for thermal energy use in
dyeing plants in Japan [44], indicating the proportion of thermal energy use for
each step in a dyeing plant, and where the potential exists for the greatest energy-
efficiency gains. The table also gives useful information about where losses are
most significant, which losses should be addressed first, and the general means of
reducing the losses.
There are various possibilities for using renewable energy in the textile industry
examples are:
1. Installation of wind-powered turbo-ventilators on production plant roofs
2. Use of direct solar energy for fiber drying
3. Use of solar energy for water heating in the textile industry
4. Solar electricity generation
12 A. K. Roy Choudhury
4.4 Generation of Waste
As with any other industry, the textile industry generates all categories of indus-
trial wastes, namely liquids, solids, and gases. For greener processes, non-
renewable wastes need to be recycled and renewable wastes need to be composted
if recycling is not an option. Various useful materials can be recovered from textile
process wastes.
The recovery of chemicals such as sodium hydroxide from mercerization baths
is achievable by heating to concentrate the solution; following such a step, 90 % of
the sodium hydroxide can be recovered [48]. The EVAC vacuum suction system in
the textile dyeing process recovers hot alkaline hydrogen peroxide, additives, and
finishing chemicals [93]. Recently introduced to Thailand from the United States,
the equipment has been installed by Chieng Sang Industry Co. in their plant at the
finishing stage to suck the excess chemical solution from the fabric, and then
transfer the solution to a storage tank for chemical recovery and recycling [97].
The polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) desize effluent is a major COD contributor to a
textile plant’s primary oxygenation treatment of water (POTW) operation, and,
being biologically inert, it presents a threat to the environment. Unfortunately, no
effective and efficient means to treat the PVA desize effluent has been imple-
mented in the textile industry. Ultrafiltration (UF) reverse osmosis (RO) tech-
nology for the recovery and recycling of PVA size is more than 35 years old, but is
not widely used because of its many disadvantages. The situation necessitates a
new technology for the recovery and recycling of PVA size which can reduce
energy and water consumption in an economical and environmentally-friendly
manner. A new technology which would eliminate the disadvantages of the current
UF process in the recovery of PVA from desize effluents is vacuum flash evap-
oration (VFE). The VFE process for recovery and concentration has been used in a
variety of other industries, but has never been demonstrated for size recovery in
the textile industry [42]. Industrial solid wastes from textile production include the
Table 2 Average thermal energy use in dyeing plants of Japan
Thermal energy consumed for % Share Required action to reduce heat loss
Heating of product 16.6
Drying of product 17.2 Avoid over-drying
Heat loss of waste liquor 24.9 Recovery of waste heat
Heat loss from equipment 12.3 Improved insulation
Heat loss with exhaust 9.3 Reduction of exhaust gas
Heat loss from idle equipment 3.7 Stop energy supply during idle time
Heat loss from evaporation 4.7 Use covered equipment
Heat loss with unrecovered condensate 4.1 Optimize recovery of condensate
Heat loss during recovery of condensate 0.6
Others 6.6
Total 100
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 13
Ashes and sludge
Cardboard boxes, bale wrapping film, or non-recyclable soiled fabric
Plastic bags containing chemical raw material
Non-reusable paper cones and tubes
Waste fabrics, yarns, and fibers from non-recyclable processing
Unmanaged solid waste is likely to be dumped as landfill.
4.5 Air Emissions
Burnt fossil fuels contribute to the emissions of carbon dioxide, a primary con-
tributor to the greenhouse effect. Textile manufacture is also responsible for the
following emissions:
Nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides (from fossil-fuel-heated boilers) which
create acidity in the natural environment (freshwater lakes, rivers, forests and
soils) and lead to the deterioration of metal and building structures. They also
contribute to smog formation in urban areas.
Solvent escaping into the air from drying ovens used in solvent coating
Solvents released from cleaning activities (general facility clean-up and
maintenance, print screen cleaning).
Emissions of volatile hydrocarbons which include non-methane hydrocarbons
(NMHCs) and oxygenated NMHCs (e.g., alcohols, aldehydes, and organic
4.6 Transportation
Long-distance transport is required to move the finished products from the fac-
tories located in low-labor-cost countries to the consumer in a developed country,
thus adding to the overall quantity of non-renewable fuel consumed.
4.7 Packaging Materials
Packaging is the science, art, and technology of enclosing or protecting products for
distribution, storage, sale, and use. Packaging also refers to the process of design,
evaluation, and production of packages. Packaging can be described as a coordi-
nated system of preparing goods for transport, warehousing, logistics, sale, and end
use. Packaging contains, protects, preserves, transports, informs, and sells [83].
14 A. K. Roy Choudhury
For consumer packaging, the packaging used to present products in stores,
materials often used are plastic, paper, metal, aluminum, cotton, hemp, and bio-
degradable materials. Companies implementing eco-friendly actions are reducing
their carbon footprint by using more recycled materials, increasingly reusing
packaging components for other purposes or products, and employing recycled
materials (e.g., paper, cotton, jute, hemp, wood), biodegradable materials, natural
products grown without the use of pesticides or artificial fertilizers, and reusable
materials (e.g., cotton bags or hemp). Reducing packaging waste is one of the best
ways to minimize environmental impact. EU Directive 94/62/EC specifies a
number of requirements relevant to packaging and packaging waste. It also sets
specific recycling targets and maximum levels for heavy metals. Sustainable
packaging is the development and use of packaging which results in improved
sustainability. At the end stage of design, it involves increased use of LCI and life
cycle assessment (LCA) which considers the material and energy inputs and
outputs to the package, the packaged product (contents), the packaging process,
and the logistics system [106].
5 Non-Eco-Friendly Substances
The terms ‘environmentally friendly,’ ‘eco-friendly,’ ‘nature friendly,’ and ‘green’
are used to refer to goods and services, laws, guidelines, and policies claimed to
inflict minimal or no harm on the environment [103]. ‘Green’ is a very subjective
term which could be interpreted in different ways, but whatever the definition,
becoming green is important in that it means having made a commitment to
protecting people and the planet; green or eco-friendly goods, services, and
practices assure the use of environmentally-friendly materials, free from harmful
chemicals, compounds, or energy waste, which do not deplete the environment
during production and transportation [8], whereas non-eco-friendly substances,
such as non-biodegradable organic materials and hazardous substances, may do
harm to the environment.
5.1 Non-Biodegradable Organic Materials
A non-biodegradable material is a substance which is not broken down by
microorganisms, has an oxygen demand only if it is a chemical reducing agent, but
has no biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) [82]. BOD is the amount of dissolved
oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms in a body of water to break down
organic materials present in a given water sample at a specified temperature over a
specific time period. The BOD value is most commonly expressed in milligrams of
oxygen consumed per liter of sample during 5 days of incubation at 20 C and is
often used as an indicator of the degree of organic pollution of water.
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 15
5.2 Hazardous Chemicals
As defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under the US
Department of Labor Standard 1910.1200 [68], a hazardous chemical is one which
is a health hazard or a physical hazard. Being designated as a health hazard means
that there is statistically significant evidence that acute (short-term) or chronic
(long-term) health effects may occur in humans exposed to that particular sub-
stance. The term ‘health hazard’ includes chemicals which are carcinogens or
otherwise toxic or highly toxic agents, which damage the lungs, skin, eyes, or
mucous membranes. A chemical is designated as a physical hazard when there is
scientifically valid evidence that it is a combustible liquid, a compressed gas,
explosive, flammable, organic peroxide, oxidizer, pyrophoric, unstable (reactive),
or water reactive.
On the basis of chemical behavior, therefore, hazardous substances may be
categorized as combustible and flammable substances, oxidizers, reactive sub-
stances, or corrosive substances, but perhaps the greatest concern is with toxicity.
Toxic heavy metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are two important
sub-groups of hazardous substances.
5.3 Toxic Metals/Heavy Metals
Bjerrum [72] defined ‘heavy metals’ as those metals with elemental densities
above 7 g/cm
; over the years, this definition has been modified by various
authors. However, there is no consistency; the term ‘heavy metal’ has never been
defined by any authoritative body such as the International Union of Pure and
Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and, in any case, density is not of great significance
in relation to the reactivity of a metal. A more useful definition is that heavy metals
are the group of metals with atomic numbers between 22 and 34 and 40 and 52,
and members of the lanthanide and actinide series which have a specific gravity
four to five times greater than that of water [35]. With regard to toxicity, differ-
entiation between metals depends upon the chemical properties of the metals and
their compounds and upon the biological properties of the organisms at risk [15],
and heavy metals are some of the most harmful ecologically. In the case of
humans, they may enter the body through food, water, or air, or by absorption
through the skin, and exhibit a tendency to bio-accumulate, with many forming
lipid-soluble organo-metallic compounds which accumulate within cells and
organs, thereby impairing their functions. The health hazards associated with some
heavy metals and metalloids (e.g., arsenic) are listed in Table 3[46].
Heavy metals are inherently persistent and some of them (for example cad-
mium, lead, and mercury) are also able to bio-accumulate and/or are toxic.
Although they occur naturally in rocks, their use by industry can release them into
the environment in quantities that can damage ecosystems. Heavy metal
16 A. K. Roy Choudhury
compounds do not break down into harmless constituents but can react to form
new compounds.
Some types of toxicity make it difficult to define ‘safe’ levels for substances,
even at low doses, for example, substances may be:
Carcinogenic (causing cancer), mutagenic (able to alter genes), and/or repro-
toxic (harmful to reproduction)
Endocrine disruptors (interfering with hormone systems)
Some possible sources of heavy metals in textile operations are incoming fiber,
water, dyestuffs (heavy metals are constituents of some classes of dyes and pig-
ments), auxiliaries, finishing chemical impurities, and the plumbing fittings used in
dyeing and finishing plants [73]. Heavy metals may also be found in plant fibers
because of absorption from the soil in which they are grown. Once absorbed by
humans, heavy metals tend to accumulate in internal organs such as the liver or the
kidneys with serious effects on health, particularly when high levels of accumu-
lation are reached. For example, high levels of lead can seriously affect the ner-
vous system. The heavy metals typically concerned are antimony (Sb), arsenic
(As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), cobalt (Co), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), mercury
(Hg), nickel (Ni), silver (Ag), tin (Sn), titanium (Ti), and zinc (Zn), many of which
can be found in effluents from textile operations [73,105]. Both cadmium and lead
are classified as carcinogens. Cadmium has been restricted in Europe for a long
time. Cadmium and cadmium oxide were classified as carcinogens and aquatic
acute and chronic toxic. Since 31 December 1992, cadmium has been prohibited
under the Council Directive 76/769/EEC of the European Union (Regulation
Concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of
Chemicals, henceforth REACH) [75]. Lead is restricted in the United States under
the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act [10] and children’s products which
contain more lead than 600 ppm have been banned in the United States since 10
February 2009, whilst the permissible lead content in paint and similar surface-
coating materials for consumer use has been reduced from 600 to 90 ppm; there
are similar European regulations controlling the content [16]. Chromium (VI) is an
undesirable by-product generated during the leather-tanning process, whenever
Table 3 Health hazards associated with heavy metals and metalloids used in the textile industry
Metal/metalloid Associated health hazard
Lead (Pb) Damage to the brain, nervous system, and kidneys (causes in mild
cases insomnia, restlessness, loss of appetite, and gastrointestinal
Mercury (Hg) Damage to the brain
Cadmium (Cd) Disorders of the respiratory system, kidneys, and lungs
Chromium (Cr) Skin and respiratory disorders, ulceration of skin and cancer of the
respiratory tract on inhalation
Arsenic (As) Skin cancer, hyper-pigmentation, kurtosis, and black foot disease
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 17
chrome tanning is employed. Chromium (VI) is a strong oxidant and skin irritant
and is classified as a carcinogen which needs to be controlled [3]. Nickel is found
in alloys used for metal accessories on garments such as buttons, zippers, and
rivets. Some people are allergic to nickel and may experience serious skin irri-
tation on coming into contact with nickel-containing accessories for an extended
period. The release of nickel is restricted under the EU REACH Regulation (EC)
No 1907/2006, Annex XVII [31]. Heavy metals which have been transferred to the
environment are highly toxic and can bio-accumulate in the human body, aquatic
life, natural water-bodies, and also possibly become trapped in the soil [69].
Heavy metals enter the environment through wastewaters from different bran-
ches of the textile industry, in particular from discharged spinning baths, from
man-made fiber manufacturing plants, and from effluents discharged from dyeing
machines. However, although it contributes, the textile industry is not the only
source of this type of pollution [24]; significant amounts of heavy metals enter the
environment in many cities from vehicle emissions, and solid industrial wastes
also contribute to contamination. Several other sources contribute to trace metal
impurities, such as:
Natural levels in our environment
Impurities in reactants or raw materials
Use of metal catalysts or reactants
Corrosion of manufacturing plant equipment
Limits on heavy metal content do not apply to products containing a listed
metal as an inherent part of the molecular structure or formula such as metal-
complex dyes [91].
5.4 Toxic Volatile Organic Compounds
VOCs are organic chemicals with a high vapor pressure under normal atmospheric
conditions. Their high vapor pressure results from their low boiling points causing
large numbers of molecules to evaporate and enter the surrounding air. An
example is formaldehyde, with a boiling point of –19 C, which will steadily
evaporate unless kept in a closed container.
VOCs include both man-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds
and many are dangerous to human health or cause harm to the environment. VOCs
may cause several health disorders, namely eye, nose, and throat irritation,
headache, loss of coordination, nausea, and damage to the liver, kidneys, and
central nervous system (CNS). Some VOCs can cause cancer in animals; some are
suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. Key signs or symptoms associated
with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort,
headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnoea (difficulty in breathing), decline
in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis (bleeding from nose),
18 A. K. Roy Choudhury
fatigue, and dizziness. The ability of organic chemicals to cause adverse health
effects varies greatly from those chemicals which are highly toxic to those with no
known health effect. The extent and nature of the health effect depends on many
factors, including the level of exposure, the length of time exposed, and an indi-
vidual’s body mass [25].
Anthropogenic VOCs are regulated by law, especially in indoor applications,
where the concentrations can potentially become the highest, whereas unregulated
VOCs from substances such as citrus oils and terpenes may still have the ability to
develop an unpleasant reaction in chemically-sensitive people. VOCs are typically
not acutely toxic, but instead often display compounding long-term health effects.
Because concentrations resulting from slow release from products are usually low,
and the symptoms are slow to develop, research on VOCs and their long-term
effects is difficult to conduct, but respiratory, allergic, or immune effects in infants
or children have been associated with man-made VOCs and other indoor or out-
door air pollutants [60].
Some VOCs, such as styrene and limonene, can react with nitrogen oxides or
with ozone in the atmosphere to produce new oxidation products and secondary
aerosols, which can cause sensory irritation symptoms [5]. Unspecified VOCs are
said to be important in the creation of smog [8].
5.5 Conventional Solvents
Most organic solvents are volatile and, unless controlled, will escape into the
workplace and the atmosphere, where they can be instrumental in causing pho-
tochemical smog. Many hydrocarbon and oxygenated solvents readily evaporate
and are highly flammable. Hence, their use needs to be managed carefully to
minimize the risks of fire or explosion, particularly during loading and unloading
for storage or transport, during storage itself, and when being used in bulk. Safe-
handling information provided by the supplier should be carefully followed [2].
The US Federal EPA classifies benzene as a known human carcinogen.
Hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon derivatives (e.g., chlorinated solvents), in addition
to serving as reaction media, are also used as cleaners, degreasers, and agents for
the extraction of organic substances from solids. Tetrachloroethylene (also known
as perchloroethylene) is widely used for dry-cleaning of fabrics and for metal-
degreasing operations, but the effects of exposure to tetrachloroethylene in humans
can be neurological, liver and kidney damage following acute (short-term) and
chronic (long-term) inhalation. Adverse reproductive effects, such as spontaneous
abortions, have also been reported from occupational exposure to tetrachloroeth-
ylene; however, no definite conclusions can be reached because of the limitations
of the studies. Results from epidemiological studies of dry cleaners occupationally
exposed to tetrachloroethylene suggest increased risks for several types of cancer.
Animal studies have reported an increased incidence of liver cancer in mice, via
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 19
inhalation and gavage (experimentally placing the chemical in the stomach), and
kidney and mononuclear cell leukaemia in rats.
5.5.1 Chlorinated Solvents
Dry cleaning is any cleaning process for clothing and textiles using a chemical
solvent other than water and is often used for delicate fabrics or those in which the
dye shows low wet-fastness. The most widely used solvent is tetrachloroethylene,
also known as perchloroethylene or PERC. PERC is classified as carcinogenic to
humans by the EPA [26] and effluents must be handled as a hazardous waste, so, to
prevent contamination of drinking water, dry cleaners must take special
When released into the air, PERC can contribute to smog on reaction with other
volatile organic carbon substances [23]. A recent study conducted at Georgetown
University [34] shows that PERC is retained in dry-cleaned clothes and that its
levels increase with repeated cleanings.
Some alternatives, such as liquid CO
, offer a possible solution to the PERC
problem; however, liquid CO
may be inferior in removing some forms of grime.
Consumer reports rated this method superior to conventional methods, but the
Drycleaning and Laundry Institute commented on its ‘fairly low cleaning ability’
in a 2007 report [13].
Glycol ethers (dipropylene glycol tert-butyl ether) (Rynex, Solvair, Lyondell
Impress) are in many cases more effective than PERC and in all cases more
environmentally friendly. Dipropylene glycol tert-butyl ether (DPTB) has a
flashpoint far above current industry standards, yet at the same time possesses a
degree of solvency for water-soluble stains at least equivalent to, and in most cases
better than, PERC and the other glycol ether dry-cleaning solvents presently in
commercial use. A particular advantage of the DPTB—water solutions in dry
cleaning is that they do not behave as a typical mixture but, rather, the behavior is
that of a single substance. This permits a better defined separation than azeotropic
distillation at a lower boiling point, facilitating reclamation more effectively (at a
level of 99 % or greater), and also enhancing purification using conventional
distillation techniques.
The silicone fluid, decamethylcyclopentasiloxane or D5, is gentler on garments
than PERC and does not cause color loss. Although considerably more environ-
mentally friendly, its price is more than double that of PERC as it is licensed by
GreenEarth Cleaning which charges an annual affiliation fee [47].
Chlorinated solvents such as trichloroethane (TCE) are sometimes used by
textile manufacturers to dissolve other substances during manufacturing and to
clean fabrics. TCE is an ozone depleting substance which can persist in the envi-
ronment. It is also known to affect the CNS, liver, and kidneys. Since 2008 the EU
has severely restricted the use of TCE in both products and fabric cleaning [37].
Chlorobenzenes are persistent and bio-accumulative chemicals. They have been
used as solvents, biocides, in the manufacture of dyes, and as chemical
20 A. K. Roy Choudhury
intermediates. They commonly affect the liver, thyroid, and CNS. Hexachloro-
benzene (HCB), the most toxic and persistent chemical of this group, is also a
hormone disruptor. Within the EU, pentachlorobenzene and HCB are classified as
‘priority hazardous substances’ under regulations requiring measures to be taken to
eliminate their pollution of surface waters in Europe. They are also listed as
‘persistent organic pollutants’ for global restriction under the Stockholm Con-
vention and, in line with this, they are prohibited or scheduled for reduction and
eventual elimination in Europe [37].
The safe or green solvents recommended by Ash and Ash [4] are listed in
Table 4.
Solvents produced from renewable resources such as ethanol produced by
fermentation of sugar-containing feedstock, starchy materials, or lignocellulosic
materials may be selected [78]. This substitution for petrochemical solvents leads
to an avoidance of the use of fossil resources (petrochemicals) and fossil-fuel-
related emissions of CO
into the environment.
5.6 Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs)
PFCs are man-made chemicals which are not produced by natural processes and
hence never occur in nature other than as a result of human activity. They are
highly resistant to chemical, biological, and thermal degradation, and many are
also relatively insoluble in both water and oils. Their unique properties have led to
their widespread use as water, grease, and stain-repellent finishes for textiles and
papers, specialized industrial solvents and surfactants, ingredients in cosmetics,
plastics, and fire-fighting foams, and ingredients in lubricants for high-temperature
applications [65].
The PFCs manufactured over the past 60 years fall into four broad categories:
1. Perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFASs) (the best-known is PFOS)
2. Perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCAs) (the best-known is PFOA)
3. Fluoropolymers (the best known is polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), marketed
as Teflon and widely used in clothing, being the basis of waterproof fabric and
for non-stick cookware)
4. Fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs)
Table 4 A few safe and green solvents [4]
Sr. no. Name Sr. no. Name Sr. no. Name
1 Acetic acid 7 Tetrahydrofuran 13 Dimethyl ether
2 Acetophenone 8 Diethylene glycol 14 Glycerol
3 Benzyl benzoate 9 Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) 15 Hexane
4tert-Butanol 10 Dimethyl ether 16 Methanol
5 Diethylene glycol 11 Ethyl acetate 17 Polyglycol E 200
6 Dibutyl ether 12 Ethylene glycol 18 Propylene glycol
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 21
PFOS and other PFCs have been found in blood and breast milk from people
living in many countries around the world, even in remote areas such as the
Canadian Arctic. In the US, average concentrations of PFOS, PFOA and perflu-
orohexansulfonate (PFH
S) in blood samples have fallen in recent years, perhaps
because of the discontinuation of industrial production of PFOS and related
chemicals in the US in 2002. Conversely, in Shenyang, China, levels of PFOS and
PFOA in human blood increased between 1987 and 2002. It has been suggested
that sea fish and other seafood may account for the majority of human exposure in
China. Studies of laboratory animals indicate that PFCs can cause adverse impacts
during both development and adulthood. PFOS and PFOA have both been reported
to have adverse effects on the liver in rodents and monkeys [54]. PFCs have also
been shown to act as hormone disruptors in humans as well as other animals [49].
High combined levels of PFOA and PFOS in the blood of men in Denmark were
found to be associated with a reduced count of normal sperm [50].
However, the durability of this group of chemicals also leads to potentially
devastating consequences for the environment, as it means that they persist for
long periods in nature once they are released, whether as a result of manufacturing
or disposal operations or during the lifetime of a product. PFOS, for example, is a
compound so resistant to degradation that it is expected to persist for very long
periods in the environment [51].
PFASs (especially PFOS) and PFCAs (especially PFOA) have been reported as
contaminants in almost all environmental media, including freshwater, ground-
water and seawater sediments, and soils [37].
There have been indications that PFOA has caused developmental toxicity and
other unwelcome effects in laboratory animals. The EPA has issued a preliminary
risk assessment of PFOA and requested scientific data and assessment concerning
the risks for this chemical. On 30 December 2009, the EPA posted four action plans,
including an action plan on long-chain PFCs (LPFCs). Further, the EPA has taken
action to understand better the sources and exposures which have led to the pres-
ence of PFOA in humans and has established its 2110/15 PFOA Stewardship
Program under which eight large companies are committed to reduce emissions and
product content by 95 % before 2010 and eliminate PFOA emission by 2015 [27].
5.7 Short-Chain Chlorinated Paraffins
Chlorinated paraffins (CPs) are a complex mixture of polychlorinated n-alkanes
and were introduced in the 1930s. The chlorination degree of CPs can vary
between 30 and 70 %. CPs are subdivided according to their carbon chain length
into short-chain CPs (SCCPs, C10–C13), medium-chain CPs (MCCPs, C14–C17),
and long-chain CPs (LCCPs, C [17). Currently, more than 200 CP formulations
are in use for a wide range of industrial applications, such as FRs and plasticizers,
as additives in metal working fluids, in sealants, paints, and coatings, and as
solvents. SCCPs are classified as persistent and their physical properties imply a
22 A. K. Roy Choudhury
high potential for bio-accumulation; furthermore, CPs are classified as toxic to
aquatic organisms, and carcinogenic to rats and mice. SCCPs were categorized as
possibly carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on
Cancer (IARC); their use has been restricted in the EU since 2004 [37]. A global
ban on SCCPs is being considered under the Stockholm Convention POPs con-
vention [85].
5.8 Phenol Derivatives
NPs and octylphenols (OPs) and their ethoxylates, particularly nonylphenol eth-
oxylates (NPEOs), have been widely used in the textile industry in cleaning and
dyeing processes. Alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEOs) and especially NPEOs are,
however, considered to be very toxic to aquatic life. APEOs are themselves
believed to be endocrine disruptors and to cause feminization of male fish. More
importantly, however, they produce metabolites which are believed to be many
times more potent endocrine disruptors than the parent compounds. The most
potent of these are octylphenol and nonylphenol. Nonylphenol is listed as a pri-
ority hazardous substance under the OSPAR convention. The sale of products
containing more than 0.1 % of nonylphenols or NPEOs has been severely
restricted in the EU since 2005 [39].
Chlorophenols are used as biocides in the textile industry. Pentachlorophenol
(PCP) in particular is highly toxic to aquatic organisms and can damage human
organs and the CNS. The production and use of PCP has been banned in the EU
since 1991 [37].
5.9 Phthalates
Phthalates are a group of chemicals (plasticizers) used in textile coating and
printing processes, in the manufacture of artificial leather and rubber, and in some
dyes, but most commonly they are used to soften PVC. There are substantial
concerns about the toxicity of phthalates such as bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate
(DEHP), which is reprotoxic (i.e., it has a negative influence on contact on the
viability and function of human gametes and embryos by reducing the fertilization
rate and impairing embryo development in mammals). The phthalates DEHP and
dibutyl phthalate (DBP) are classed as ‘toxic to reproduction’ in Europe and their
use is restricted. Under REACH legislation all applications of benzyl butyl
phthalate (BBP) and DEHP are banned from 1 August 2014 and those of DBP
from 1 February 2015. The list of banned and restricted substances, substances
with reporting requirements, and those under observation has been produced by
Ericsson [28].
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 23
5.10 Organotin Compounds
One of the best-known organotin compounds is tributyltin (TBT). TBT compounds
are a group of compounds containing the (C
Sn moiety, such as tributyltin
hydride or TBTO; they are considered toxic chemicals which have negative effects
on humans and the environment. One of the main uses of organotin compounds
was in antifouling paints for ships, until evidence emerged that they leach into the
aquatic environment, causing irreversible damage to aquatic life, they persist in the
environment, build up in the body, can affect the immune and reproductive sys-
tems, and trigger genes which cause the growth of fat cells [79]. Use of organotin
compounds in antifouling marine paints is now largely banned. TBT has also been
applied to textiles. Organotin compounds are used in biocides and as antifungal
agents in a range of consumer products such as socks, shoes, and sport clothes to
prevent odor caused by the breakdown of sweat. TBT is listed as a ‘priority
hazardous substance’ under EU regulations requiring measures to be taken to
eliminate its pollution of surface waters in Europe; products (including consumer
products) containing more than 0.1 % of certain types of organotin compounds are
banned across the EU [32].
5.11 List of Restricted Substances
Sustainable textiles should be environmentally friendly and should satisfy the
rational conditions to respect social and environmental quality by pollution pre-
vention or through installing pollution-control technologies. Certification, how-
ever, is a voluntary process. Any entity conducting a business for which a standard
exists may be asked to have its output or services certified. Certification is a
procedure through which a third party, the certification body, gives a written
assurance that an organizational system, process, person, product, or service
complies with requirements specified in a standard or benchmark. Certification is
awarded for a limited period, during which the certification body carries out
monitoring. Third-party certification bodies and governments have issued the
Restricted Substances List (RSL) linking production ecology to human ecology
Lists of restricted substances (RSL) are constantly changing as more infor-
mation from scientists and health professionals becomes available, leading to an
enhanced understanding of chemicals and their effect on human health and the
environment. The inclusion of substances listed in the RSL is based in large part
on global legislation regulating chemical usage in the manufacturing of apparel
products. The EU has developed REACH, which is aimed at ensuring a high level
of protection of human health and the environment from the risks which can be
posed by chemicals [75]. Other countries that have developed or are developing
similar lists of restricted substances are China, Canada, and South Korea. In the
United States, several states, including California, Washington, and Maine, have
24 A. K. Roy Choudhury
adopted laws regulating chemicals in consumer products. These regulatory
requirements are incorporated into the RSL.
The RSL released by the American Apparel and Footwear Association includes
only those materials, chemicals, and substances restricted or banned in finished
home textile, apparel, and footwear products because of a regulation or law. The list
includes the names of selected arylamines, certain disperse dyes, solvents, pesti-
cides, asbestos, certain fluorinated compounds, GHGs, dioxins and furans, FRs,
metals, organotin compounds, phthalates, and miscellaneous other chemicals [1].
The various approaches being undertaken by the industry include avoiding the
use of hazardous chemicals, reducing the extent of use of such chemicals, or
totally substituting the process by using safe chemicals [87]. Because of driving
factors such as the increased demand for eco-friendly processing and intensified
control on polluting technologies, the use of biotechnology is increasing day by
day. Various enzymes are being used to substitute a number of hazardous chem-
icals in the textile industry [92], giving a global enzyme market for textiles of
approximately $US178 million.
6 Eco-Friendly Substitutes
The characteristics of green chemicals are as follows [58]:
Prepared from renewable or readily-available resources by environmentally-
friendly processes
Low tendency to undergo sudden, violent, unpredictable reactions such as
Non-flammable or poorly flammable
Low toxicity and absence of toxic constituents, particularly heavy metals
Low tendency to undergo bio-accumulation in food chains in the environment.
Some of the harmful textile chemicals and their eco-friendly substitutes are
given in Table 5[76].
7 Cleaner Production
As part of the cleaner production approach, a textile processor has to be lean,
efficient, and innovative [56], which can be achieved by the following ways:
Lean: good housekeeping, conservation and control
Efficient: ‘right-first-time’ (RFT) approach, chemical/water/energy/machine
audits, optimization/rationalization
Innovative: reuse, recovery and recycle initiatives for process change
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 25
Table 5 Some harmful textile chemicals and their eco-friendly substitutes
Existing chemicals Uses Proposed substitutes
Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) Yarn size Potato starch or carboxymethylcellulose (CMC)
Pentachlorophenol, formaldehyde Size preservative Sodium silicofluoride
Carbon tetrachloride (CTC) Stain removers Detergent stain removers
Detergent (non-ionic, ethoxylates) and water-miscible
solvent (glycol ethers) mixtures
Enzymatic stain-removers
Calcium and sodium hypochlorite Bleaching Hydrogen peroxide, Ozone dissolved in cold water
Sodium silicate, phosphorus-based compounds Peroxide stabilizer Nitrogenous stabilizers
Nonylphenyl ethylene oxide adducts (APEO) Detergent, emulsifier Fatty alcohol ethylene oxide adducts, alkylpolyglycosides
Synthetic non-biodegradable surfactants Various purposes Sustainable and highly biodegradable surfactants from
Synthetic non-biodegradable surfactants +solvent Coatings and degreasing ‘Solvosurfactants’ acting as both solvent and surfactant,
derived from glycerol (bio-diesel)
Dichlorobenzene and trichlorobenzene Carriers in dyeing Butyl benzoate, benzoic acid
Kerosene Pigment printing Water-based thickeners
Formaldehyde Finishing, dye fixing Polycarboxylic acid, non-formaldehyde products
Sodium dichromate Oxidation in dyeing Hydrogen peroxide
Silicones and amino-silicones +APEO emulsifier Softener Eco-friendly softeners, wax emulsions
Functional synthetic finish Finishing Beeswax, aloe vera, and vitamin A
26 A. K. Roy Choudhury
Some important areas where chemical recovery and reuse has proved most
effective are:
Reuse of dye solutions from the dye-bath.
Recovery of sodium hydroxide in mercerizing (by effective evaporation or
using membrane technology).
Recovery of size in cotton processing (using technologies such as UF).
Recovery of grease in raw-wool fiber scouring (by acid cracking, centrifuging,
or by solvent extraction).
Recovery and recycling of PVA size from desize effluent streams.
Recovery of PVA size by UF is more than 35 years old, but is still not widely
used in the global textile industry because of certain disadvantages, including high
energy costs for pumping and high membrane cleaning/replacement costs. Envi-
ronmentally-friendly and economical technology for PVA size recovery and
recycling is still needed to reduce energy and water consumption. One example
which may prove useful is VFE, which overcomes most of the disadvantages of the
current UF process. In this system water is evaporated under vacuum at low
temperature, leaving extracted cotton impurities from the previous desizing pro-
cess, non-evaporated water and PVA in the concentrate [43].
Many textile companies invest in—or plan to invest heavily in—effluent
treatment, in many cases not knowing that the pollution load may be reduced by
30–50 % by applying the techniques of pollution prevention given in Table 6.
The general approaches to textile waste reduction in textile wet processing are
as follows.
Preparation Stage
Recovery systems
Waste steam reuse
Chemical substitutions
Alternative processing
Reconstitution/reuse of dye-bath
Chemical substitution
Alternative processes
Alternative processes
Waste characterization
Raw materials
The fate of processing chemicals
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 27
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) summarizes the ten best
practices that save water, energy, fuel, and electricity with little upfront investment
and no risk to product delivery times, price or quality, as given in Table 7[40].
8 LCA of Textile Products
The overall impact on the environment by a product, process, or service may be
best assessed by LCA, eco-balance, or cradle-to-grave analysis. LCA involves a
systematic scientific approach to examine the environmental impacts of the entire
life cycle of a product or service. It is not simply the quality of the product, nor the
amount of waste ending up in a landfill or an incinerator, but the life cycle of the
product determines its environmental impact.
LCA is a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the
stages in the life cycle of a product, from raw material extraction, through
materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and
Table 6 Techniques of pollution prevention in textile processing
Object Implementation techniques
Reduction of wastewater volume Good housekeeping
Counter-flow processing
Reuse of process water
Automation of the machinery
Reduction of the amount of dyes and
chemicals consumption
Good housekeeping
Process optimization by careful selection of dyestuffs,
auxiliaries and process conditions
Recovery and reuse of process chemicals
Automation of the machinery
Computerized recipe optimization
Table 7 Ten best practices suggested by US Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Sr. no. Best available techniques
1 Carry out leak detection, preventive maintenance, improved regular cleaning
2 Reuse cooling water from (1) singeing, (2) air compressor system, and (3) preshrinking
3 Reuse condensate
4 Reuse process water from (1) bleaching, and (2) mercerizing
5 Recover heat from hot rinse water
6 Use pre-screened coal
7 Maintain steam traps
8 Insulate pipes, valves, and flanges
9 Recover heat from smokestacks
10 Optimize compressed air system
28 A. K. Roy Choudhury
disposal or recycling [22]. LCA is also a way of measuring whether green
improvements have been made or not. LCA is used for much more than just waste
minimization; it is also used for estimating CO
and GHG emissions and, perhaps
most commonly, as a way to investigate the flow of energy and water in a process
[52]. The immediate precursors of LCAs were the global modelling studies and
energy audits of the late 1960s and early 1970s. These measures attempted to
assess the resource cost and environmental implications of different patterns of
human behavior. As an environmental assessment tool which accounts for the use
and emission of various raw materials at all stages in the product chain, from raw
material extraction, through production, use, and final disposal, LCA is used to
give a better assessment of environmental impact by identifying total energy use,
material inputs, and waste generated from the point that the raw materials are
obtained to final disposal of the product [102]. LCA is a method in which the
energy and raw material consumption, different types of emissions, and other
important factors related to a specific product’s environmental impact are mea-
sured, analyzed, and aggregated for the entire life cycle of the product, attempting
to include all impacts from raw material to disposal (‘cradle-to-grave’) or at least
from raw material to the point of sale (‘cradle-to-gate’), since, in many cases, the
individual consumers are either not known or not traceable. Cradle-to-gate is an
assessment of a partial product life cycle from resource extraction (cradle) to the
factory gate (i.e., before it is transferred to the consumer). The use phase and
disposal phase of the product are omitted in this case. Cradle-to-gate assessments
sometimes form the basis for the environmental product declarations (EPDs)
termed business-to-business EDPs. LCAs are considered to be the most compre-
hensive approach to assessing environmental impact.
On behalf of the Dutch Ministries of the Environment and Economic Affairs,
the Leiden Centre for Environmental Sciences has drafted a manual for the exe-
cution of an environment-oriented LCA [41]. This manual contains guidelines
regarding the contents of an LCA and presents arithmetic methods for the quan-
tification of environmental impact categories, and has, in the main, been used in
the formulation of international guidelines regarding LCA (ISO 14040–14043,
Environmental Management—LCA) as drafted by the International Organization
for Standardization. Subsequently, an LCA study was conducted for four repre-
sentative mattresses, namely polyether foam, latex foam, spring interior, and a
‘Scandinavian mattress’, the aim being to give an overview of all environmental
aspects related to the life cycle of mattresses and to identify the most important
processes and emissions from an environmental point of view (the key issues) [17].
A retailer in The Netherlands, interested in developing an environmentally-
friendly range of shirts, undertook an LCA project for a man’s shirt [98], focusing
on which phase in a shirt’s life cycle produced the most pollution and whether
natural or synthetic fibers were environmentally preferable.
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 29
The environmental impacts of the shirts were assessed over four phases in the
life cycle:
1. Production (cotton growing, spinning and weaving, dyeing and finishing)
2. Transportation
3. Use (washing, drying, and ironing)
4. Disposal (reuse, recycling, composting, and incinerating)
The results showed that most of the environmental impact occurs during
transportation to the retail outlet and during the use phase. In the use phase, for
example, washing the shirts at 60 C used twice the amount of energy over the life
cycle as did washing at 40 C. Synthetic or mixed textile fibers are environmen-
tally preferable because they retain less moisture and are therefore easier to dry
and require little, if any, pressing, which further reduces energy consumption. The
economic benefits from following the preferred composition and care regime
environmentally were a 10 % reduction in energy use for washing, drying and
pressing in total and over 20 % reduction in detergent use.
A simplified LCA model for textile companies may be designed based on the
energy and chemicals used, excluding transport [11]. At first the fiber type is
selected. If more than one fiber is used in a product, the model has to be run
separately for each fiber and a final calculation made, considering their relative
amounts. Various unit operations such as spinning, texturing, weaving/knitting,
chemical processing processes (preparation, dyeing, printing, finishing), item-
making (furnishing garment), separate cleaning step (if any), and waste manage-
ment for the particular product are identified. The practitioners choose a fiber type,
and for each unit operation insert their own or default values for type and amount
of energy, chemical or detergent and incineration use, data for the yield of the
fiber/fabric, and costs.
Default values and a description of from where the data were obtained and for
what conditions they are valid are found in the database; for the different unit
operations the following elementary and money flow data are available:
1. Resource use of crude oil, coal, natural gas, water, fossil fuel, water, arable
land, forest land, and other land
2. Air emissions of CO
, VOC, and particulate matter with
aerodynamic diameters less than 10 lm
3. Water discharges with BOD, COD, total phosphorus, and total nitrogen (sul-
fates are not mentioned in the model)
4. Cost
The model may include aggregation of inventory data, characterization of
global warming, acidification, eutrophication and photo-oxidant creation potential,
and interpretation of the eco-efficiency (the relation between environmental impact
and the benefit). It may be important to include transport in the model if, for
instance, garments transported in a non-efficient way are being assessed. Pack-
aging material may be of importance for products where significant amounts of
packaging are used. When more is known about how to assess chemical discharges
30 A. K. Roy Choudhury
to bodies of water, it may be important to include wastewater treatment plants in
the model. The model could also be supplemented with data for chemicals which
affect the environment negatively [11].
Figure 3shows the life cycle of a cotton T-shirt. Products can be evaluated
through each stage of their life cycles [14,76], namely:
Extraction or acquisition of raw materials (mainly cotton fibers)
Manufacturing and processing (making of yarn, fabric, preparation, and
Packaging (paper, plastic, etc.)
Transportation and distribution of products
Use and reuse
For each stage, inputs of materials are identified and energy required is
assessed; outputs of useful products and waste emissions are measured. Optimal
points for improvement are identified and eco-efficiency is estimated.
9 Location-Specific LCA
Julia Steinberger and others [84] describe the challenges of applying LCA to a
global production–consumption chain for textiles, accounting for specificities of
the production of cotton in India and polyester in China, with consumption in
Germany. Such location-specific LCA is promising for understanding the envi-
ronmental costs and benefits of globalized production–consumption chains. The
functional unit was considered to be 100 days of a single garment being worn.
This corresponds to wearing a single garment 2 days a week for 6 months in each
Fig. 3 LCA of cotton T-shirt
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 31
of 2 years, and is understood to be a reasonable lifetime for a garment. The use
phase of a cotton T-shirt and polyester jacket differs considerably—the cotton T-
shirt was washed much more often (after every 2 weeks or 50 times, in this study),
whereas the polyester jacket was only washed 2 or 3 times a season (6 times in
total in this study). Dryers were used at roughly 75 % of the frequency of the
washing machines.
Because Germany, India, and China all have predominantly coal-fired power
stations, the CO
emissions track the electricity consumption along the textile
chains. Despite the fact that the functional units of a cotton T-shirt and a polyester
jacket are different, the contrast between the emission fractions in the producing
and the consuming countries is noteworthy and striking. The CO
emissions for a
cotton T-shirt and polyester jacket washed and dried with C-rated (i.e., inefficient)
appliances show the opposite behavior in the geographic distribution of emissions:
the frequent washing and drying in the consuming country of a cotton T-shirt is
responsible for over 60 % of the total lifetime emissions, whereas, because the
polyester jacket is washed less often, the consuming country emissions account for
less than 20 % of the total. By examining various practical scenarios, it was
concluded that the most important factors in reducing use phase emissions are:
1. Substituting air drying for machine drying
2. Decreasing the temperature of washing
3. The appliance efficiency rating
By switching to air drying and reducing the washing temperature from 60 to
40 C, the total CO
emissions are almost halved. This highlights the importance
of developing laundry detergents which are effective at lower temperatures.
Another consideration is the necessity of frequent washings. If a garment requires
less washing (e.g., through resistance to stains or sweat), the impact on the
environment during use will be correspondingly low. Emissions of SO
very different behavior, reflecting not only the coal-based source of the country’s
power sector, but also the existence (or not) of emissions-control technology. The
lack of effective emissions abatement in China and India causes the production
phase to be responsible for over 70 % of the sulfur dioxide emissions for both
cotton and polyester garments.
Tobler-Rohr [94] described eight cases of LCA, namely cotton growing,
spinning and weaving of cotton fabrics, mixed fabrics, finishing in two companies,
finishing of two fabrics in the same company, laundry industry, production and
recycling of a polyester product, and Nylon 6.
Some of the observations are discussed below.
9.1 Cotton Growing
In cotton growing, the lower the yield, the higher the environmental impacts. The
impacts are focused on ecotoxicity, because no other impact category indicates a
32 A. K. Roy Choudhury
significant impact. In the case of cultivation of organic cotton, the impact categories
of ecotoxicity and summer smog are mainly affected, followed by the GHG effects
mainly caused by the manure applied and the gas used as the energy source [94].
9.2 Spinning and Weaving
Before spinning and weaving can be carried out, cotton fibers are often transported
over long distances to the mill because of the geographically limited growing area.
The highest impacts are therefore caused by overseas transportation and spinning
and weaving processes (wherein impact caused by air conditioning is considerable).
The fiber production process (cotton, polyester, or both) influences the environment
more strongly than the fabric production method; the main impact categories in the
production of open-end-spun (OE-spun) cotton yarns for denim fabrics are acidi-
fication and heavy metal contamination followed by winter smog (probably because
of the chemicals used in fiber production/cultivation). A comparison of jeans
fabrics produced with different spinning and knitting technologies shows that the
highest impact on environment was with ring-spun jeans followed by OE-spun
jeans; the lowest impact was with knitted shirts, even with equal weight as jeans. In
fact, knitting technology has less impact on the environment than modern air jet
weaving technology [94]. However, advanced four-phase weaving was even more
eco-friendly than conventional knitting because of its higher productivity. Fiber
production influences the environment more strongly than the production pro-
cesses. The environmental impact is greater in cotton growing than in polyester
production. Hence, when fiber production is integrated with spinning and weaving,
the impact is more with cotton than with polyester [94].
9.3 Chemical Processing
Bleaching, mercerizing, dyeing, and printing of knitted cotton fabric were carried
out on a cold pad–batch system with cold dye fixation, an energy-saving tech-
nology which requires careful process control to avoid dimensional changes. The
rotary-screen printing process caused by far the largest impact, where eutrophi-
cation, acidification, human toxicity, energy, and greenhouse effect were mainly
affected. Mercerization had a much lower impact than rotary screen printing,
followed by the dyeing process. The dyeing process included a variety of chemical
recipes and minor differences in eutrophication occurred between different classes
of dyestuffs. Additional rinsing and drying processes required more energy. The
spinning and knitting process of polyester causes lower impacts than with cotton
and other cellulosic fibers. There is little pre-treatment and finishing applied, but
energy consumption is higher in wet processing because of the high-temperature
dyeing of polyester.
Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 33
9.4 Laundry Processes
Professional drying processes are carried out with tumble-drying, mangling, and
tunnel finishing, whereas in private homes, drying processes rely on tumble-drying
and ironing. Professional laundries gained a better ranking for the same unit
weight of laundered goods. It was observed that the washing machinery for a
professional laundry operation is optimized only in terms of water consumption,
but not in terms of energy consumption, a trend which must have changed since
the time of study (i.e., since the end of the 1990s) [94].
9.5 Polyester Recycling
A comparison of the product life cycle from raw material to the point of sale was
made with four different options:
Recycling (by melt spinning)
Reuse (by injection molding)
Household waste treatment (with heat recovery)
Incineration with landfill
Recycling, reuse, and incineration all gave a 30 % better ranking.
The results from the individual process LCA have only limited importance for
the whole life cycle of textiles in general, because there are many diverging
parameters, particularly with respect to quality aspects; moreover, the same fabric
quality produced via different processes on different equipment or with different
recipes will result in different impacts.
10 Conclusions
Industrial pollution can have devastating impacts on river systems and lakes which
are vital to wildlife and to the lives of billions of people. Toxic substances dumped
by industry have a wide range of harmful properties—such as causing cancer,
affecting the hormone system, and interfering with reproductive systems. These
effects can apply not just to humans but to all living creatures. There is evidence
that the textile industry is responsible for a large proportion of the water pollution
problem, with its use and discharge of hazardous chemicals contributing to the
chemical load in the river systems.
The presence of hazardous substances in the environment shows that the tra-
ditional approach to industrial discharges is not working—wastewater treatment
plants are unable to cope with many hazardous substances. The consequences for
ecosystems and human health are severe, and the clean-up of hazardous substances
34 A. K. Roy Choudhury
is a difficult and costly process. What is needed is a new approach to hazardous
chemicals—one addressing the problem at source rather than retrospectively. The
idea of eliminating all discharges of hazardous chemicals into the aquatic envi-
ronment—‘zero discharge’—is based on the understanding that it is impossible to
define safe levels for many hazardous pollutants. Redesign of products and pro-
cesses to phase out the use and discharge of hazardous chemicals has proven to be
the best approach [37]. LCA should be done on a regular basis, especially for new
products and processes, to keep track of their impact on the environment.
Accordingly, steps need to be taken to reduce pollution load and make textile
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Environmental Impacts of the Textile Industry 39
... Today, due to the combination of low prices and poor quality, many individuals believe that clothes are disposable. In spite of the fact that 85% of the garments sent to landfills could be recycled, the United Kingdom sends 300,000 tons of clothing to landfills each year due to poor quality, making it the fastest-growing waste economy [14,16]. ...
... However, owing to their substandard quality, they ultimately end up in landfills, exacerbating the environmental crisis and contributing to the greenhouse gas emissions associated with these sites [5,6]. These days, textile waste presents a considerable environmental challenge on a global scale [6,16]. The current state of affairs, characterised by the extensive production and consumption of fast fashion products, necessitates a worldwide approach to addressing this challenge. ...
... As the negative environmental impacts of the fashion industry extend beyond the production stage, the utilisation phase of garments is a significant contributor to environmental degradation [8,33]. This can be seen in the transportation of clothing to retail outlets as well as the subsequent usage phase [16,34]. As the weekly laundry of a single household could potentially discharge thousands of microfibers, using machines with high efficiency ratings, lower washing temperatures, air drying, using front loading, and full load machines can reduce the energy and carbon footprints of the global apparel industry [30,35]. ...
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From agriculture and petrochemical production to manufacturing, logistics, and retail, the textile and fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, responsible for between 8 to 10% of total carbon emissions and 20% of global wastewater, with a predicted increase of 50% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. To gain a better understanding of the state of the academic literature on the environmental impact of fast fashion, we systematically identified and analysed 30 publications published between January 2000 and December 2022. In the end, we discovered that there is a growing research interest in fast fashion, especially in relation to its devastating environmental impacts, which range from the cultivation of raw fibres to the recycling of fashion waste. Subsequently, we provide a summary of the key findings, including the carbon and water footprints, as well as some sustainable practises believed to reduce the industry’s negative environmental impacts.
... Poor light penetration and less dissolved oxygen in water bodies result in the disruption of the aquatic life cycle. 31,32 Various heavy metals, such as Al, Cu, Pb, Hg, Fe, Co, As, and Zn, are also related to textile dye molecules and responsible for a number of ill effects on human health, including different cancers, dementia, neural toxicity, and organ failure. 33 In recent years, a great shi has been observed towards environmental protection and huge concern was seen regarding the importance of conservation of environment. ...
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Persistent organic pollutants and dyes cause major problems during ecofriendly wastewater treatment. To overcome this huge problem, several techniques have been considered and in practice for the safe disposal of organic pollutants in recent years; some of them are discussed and compared herein. This review focuses on new trends for wastewater treatment and compares them with certain other techniques alongside their pros and cons; adsorption is considered the safest among them. Adsorbents derived from agri-wastes have good capacity for the removal of these contaminants owing to their great sorption capacity, high reusability, easy operation, etc. Sometimes they need some modifications for the removal of dyes, which are also discussed in this review. This capacity of adsorbents to chelate dye molecules can be affected by factors, such as pH, the concentration of dyes and adsorbents, and temperature of the system. pH has direct influence on the ionization potential and charge on the outer surface of adsorbents. The findings on isotherms, kinetics, and desorption of plant waste-based biomaterials that are safe for the ecosystem and user friendly and are used for hazardous contaminant removal from water are summarized in this review. Finally, conclusions and future perspectives are presented, and some other materials, such as CNTs and MOFs, are also discussed as efficient adsorbents for eliminating dyes from wastewater. Finally, it is predicted that the adsorption of dyes is a more feasible solution for this dye pollution problem.
... The textile industry is known for its high levels of chemicals used during manufacturing and production (Quinn, 2010;Roy Choudhury, 2014). Nonylphenol-ethoxylates (NPEs or NPEOs) are synthetic chemicals used in domestic cleaners (until phased out in the 1990s) and in the textile processing industry (OSPAR Commission, 2006). ...
Purpose The purpose of this research was to determine the level of nonylphenols (NPs) present in wastewater from the first launder of new activewear garments purchased in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Design/methodology/approach Fifteen garments were purchased and prepared, and each was laundered separately. Wastewater was collected from each of the garments being laundered and tested for NPs, along with the controls. Findings According to the obtained results, detectable levels of NPs were present in all the garments tested. Originality/value The results obtained from the detection of NPs present in activewear garments is the first study of its kind in New Zealand and adds to the understanding of the distance that toxic chemicals can travel when used in textile manufacturing.
... The textile value chain starts with the raw material, goes through all the transformation processes, reaching the nal product and nally the distribution, and there are countless impacts on the environment in all these stages. (Choudhury, 2014;Muthu, 2014) Sustainability has been one of the main issues these days, in all areas. Excessive consumption in fashion and clothing has led the market to look for new ways to treat waste. ...
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This paper aims to discuss how to give a new life to textile waste, creating new products and thus extending the life cycle of natural bers. Also it is intended to create a sustainable fashion brand that is based on circular economy principles and on the upcycling of natural ber fabrics at the end of life, for the creation of clothing and accessories. The raw materials for this project of upcycling will be industrial pre consumption waste, such as production surplus, leftovers, scraps and fabric samples that are discarded by companies. Preference will be given to natural bers such as cotton and linen.
Cotton fiber is known as the white gold of India and every state thrives on it in many ways: farming, textile, craft, or basic utility products. A shift in the popularity of cotton is seen in the twenty-first century which came up with unprecedented opportunity in terms of technology and new material due to the harmful environmental effects of cotton. Search and application of new fibers such as bamboo, linen, banana, jute, ramie, pineapple, hemp, and lotus by the textile and fashion industry has made these fibers as some of the important alternatives for cotton due to their additional advantage not only as a textile material but also due to their sustainable developmental life cycle. This chapter is a compilation of many studies and researches conducted in the field of sustainable alternatives for cotton, and it explores the ability and inability of these fibers to substitute cotton.KeywordsCottonNatural fibersEnvironmental pollutionLotusBananaAlternativesSustainable
The textile and fashion industry, responsible for 5.4% of the world’s pollution, is considered the fifth most unsustainable industry. It dramatically impacts the environment, from raw materials to finished goods. Waste generation occurs at every stage of manufacturing, and sustainability stands as the need of the hour. Although natural materials (like cotton, hemp, jute, etc.) are considered sustainable, the production of those materials requires a large amount of cultivation land and water. Most consumers believe that the use of natural textiles protects the environment. However, different sources provide the opposite facts and prove that manufacturing natural fiber (like cotton) is extremely pollutant. The production of synthetic fibers relies on non-renewable resources, and their extraction process involves the usage of high-energy machinery. The most commonly used synthetic material in the fashion industry is polyester, and manufacturing requires intensive heating and a large quantity of water for the cooling process. Besides harming animals, the leather industry is responsible for 15% of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions and uses a large quantity of water and chemicals in the tanning process. To overcome the environmental impacts of existing materials, research works are made to identify sustainable alternatives. This chapter aims to analyze and consolidate the latest, sustainable novel materials and their technologies for the fashion industry. Also, the technological and economic feasibility of those materials in commercialization will be evaluated. Significant importance is given to established materials like citrus fibers, bacterial cellulose in fashion applications, and vegan leather products like cactus leather and mycelium leather. The last section of the chapter outlines the barriers to these future technologies with potential application scope in the textile and fashion industry.KeywordsSustainable materialCitrus fiberBacterial celluloseCactus leatherMycelium leatherFashion application
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The environmental pollution issue in the textile industry has gained significant attention recently as one of the world’s most polluting industries. This paper aims to optimize product mixes for profit, tax, carbon, and resource efficiency. It employs mathematical models based on Activity-Based Costing (ABC) and the Theory of Constraints (TOC) to address carbon emissions, waste reuse, and energy recovery. Industry 4.0 technologies are integrated with real-time sensing and detection in production, and data are analyzed in the ERP system for optimal responses to production issues. The study explores different carbon emission cost models, including balancing environmental protection and green production with maximizing corporate profits. Additionally, a new environmentally friendly brick is proposed, combining cement with emitted coal slag to create a cost-effective and eco-friendly product.
Sports clothing is manufactured in large volumes for a shorter life cycle, leading to a huge waste, when disposed to earth. Synthetic fibres are used in sports apparels for better comfort properties and performances. The latest techniques and manufacturing processes are adopted to produce sustainable sports apparels. Digital concepts have been adopted to minimise material wastes, ensuring reduction in the resource exploitation. In this chapter, along with environmental aspects, social and economic aspects of sustainable development through triple bottom line study, effective material selection with digitalisation in the supply chain, and the influences of slow fashion in the waste reduction are also discussed.Keywordssustainable manufacturingLife cycle assessmentTriple bottom lineDigitalisationSports fashion
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Nowadays, businesses focus on sustainable supply chain management to gain economic, environmental, and social benefits. In reference to the criteria determined, selecting sustainable suppliers for the three dimensions of sustainability and for the companies operating in different sectors from these dimensions enables the business to become stronger in the market. In this study, sustainable supplier selection criteria were classified as quantitative and qualitative using the information obtained from the literature research. Later, by comparing Dickson’s criteria with Ghoushchi’s criteria, Dickson’s criteria were classified within the framework of triple bottom line. The solution to the sustainable supplier selection problem of a business that produces sustainable agricultural machines in Turkey using criteria selected from the classification was performed with Mamdani-type fuzzy inference system.
Technical Report
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This document is intended to provide the background information for the revision of the Ecolabel criteria for Textiles and the development of Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria for this product group. The study has been carried out by the Joint Research Centre's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (JRC-IPTS) with technical support from the Danish Standards Foundation (DS) and COWI. The work is being developed for the European Commission's Directorate General for the Environment. The main purpose of this document is to evaluate the current criteria and discuss if the criteria are still relevant or should be revised, restructured or removed. This document is complemented by and informed by the preliminary report, which provides the legislative, market and technical analysis to support the criteria proposals. For each criterion a table summarising any proposed revisions together with the current criteria is provided. After each table discussions of the rationale for any proposed revisions (or not) to the criterion are presented in chronological date order commencing from the first technical report published in February 2012. Proposals for each subsequent revision of the criteria are presented together with stakeholder feedback from stakeholders and the findings of follow-up research. Together these allow the evolution of each criteria proposal to be traced. The final technical report will bring together the scientific arguments for the proposed new criteria document.
Technical Report
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This draft preliminary report is intended to provide the background information for the revision of the EU Ecolabel and Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria for textile products. The study has been carried out by the Joint Research Centre's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (JRC-IPTS) with technical support from the Danish Standards Foundation (DS) and COWI. The work is being developed for the European Commission's Directorate General for the Environment. The EU Ecolabel and GPP criteria form key voluntary policy instruments within the European Commission’s Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy (SCP/SIP) Action Plan and the Roadmap for a Resource-Efficient Europe. The Roadmap seeks to move the economy of Europe onto a more resource efficient path by 2020 in order to become more competitive and to create growth and employment. The EU Ecolabel promotes the production and consumption of products with a reduced environmental impact along the life cycle and is awarded only to the best (environmental) performing products in the market. Similarly, GPP provides common criteria for public authorities to ’green’ their procurement practices. An important part of the process for developing or revising Ecolabel criteria is the involvement of stakeholders through public of draft technical reports and criteria proposals and through involvement in working group meetings. This document sets the scene for the discussions planned to take place at the two working group meetings planned to take place in 2012. This draft preliminary report addresses the requirements of the Ecolabel Regulation No 66/2010 for technical evidence to inform criteria revision. It consists of three main sections: 1. Background information, including a description of the legal framework, preliminary input from stakeholders and an overview on the current number of EU Ecolabel license holders 2. Market information, including a short presentation of other textile labels and an overview of market information regarding textiles and fibres used. 3. A technical analysis pointing out the environmental “hot spots” of textile products based on the information available in different LCA studies. The information above has been used to determine the focus for the revision process and an initial set of criteria proposals is presented in a supporting technical report.
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Many developing countries, including African ones, look forward to developing strong integrated textile industries to add value to already-available raw materials. Dyeing and finishing activities are, however, energy-intensive. In many cases, these depend on imported fossil fuels. By turning to heat recovery, significant cost savings can be achieved improving profitability and competitiveness. The techniques and technologies of heat recovery from waste water and exhaust air are analysed. Experiences prove that in most cases heat recovery requires low investment and has a low payback of normally less than 2 years. The case of the Mauritian dyeing and finishing industry is highlighted, including the possible use of a low-cost heat recovery unit made from indigenous resources.
The textile industry is one of the critical industries that fulfils one of the fundamental requirements of human beings and, subsequently, becomes an unavoidable part of human life. Furthermore, the consumption of textile products is increasing rapidly over time, both locally and globally, due to population growth. The increased consumption of textile products has been a concern regarding both increased textile waste streams and environmental impacts. It is because of harmful chemicals and high water and energy consumption. Due to the widespread use of non-biodegradable packaging materials, this industry produces significant volumes of wastewater, sludge, gaseous waste, fabric waste, yarn waste, and fiber waste. The manufacture of textiles may be well controlled while producing the least amount of waste possible. Small quantities of resources used in the textile business, such as raw materials, water, energy, chemicals, and auxiliary materials, result in environmental, social, and economic sustainability. The kinds, origins, management practices, and advantages of textile waste are covered in this chapter. Recommendations are given for efficiently handling textile waste at the chapter's conclusion.KeywordsWaste managementSustainabilityEnvironmental effectAnd degradation of textiles
Water Pollution: Causes, Effects And Control Is A Book Providing Comprehensive Information On The Fundamentals And Latest Developments In The Field Of Water Pollution.The Book Is Divided Into 28 Chapters Covering Almost All The Aspect Of Water Pollution Including Water Resources And General Properties Of Water; History Of Water Pollution And Legislation; Origin, Sources And Effects Of Pollutants; Bioaccumulation And Biomagnification; Toxicity Testing And Interaction Of Toxicities In Combination; Water Quality Standards; Biomonitoring Of Water Pollution; Bacteriological Examination And Purification Of Drinking Water; Monitoring And Control Of Pollution In Lakes, Rivers, Estuaries And Coastal Waters; Physical And Biological Structure Of Aquatic Systems; And Structure, Properties And Uses Of Water.Some Important Topics Like Eutrophication, Organic Pollution, Oil Pollution And Thermal Pollution Have Been Discussed In Detail. The Water Pollution Caused By Pesticides, Heavy Metals, Radio Nuclides And Toxic Organics And Inorganic Along With The Water Quality Problems Associated With Water-Borne Pathogens And Nuisance Algae Have Also Been Dealt With Extensively.The Book Covers In Detail The Flow Measurement And Characterization Of Waste Waters In Industries, And Control Of Water Pollution By Employing Various Techniques For Treatment Of Biological And Nonbiological Wastes. The Considerations For Recycling And Utilization Of Waste Waters Have Also Found A Place In The Book. Special Topic Has Also Been Given On Water Pollution Scenario And Water Related Policies And Programmes In India.The Book Shall Be Of Immediate Interest To The Students Of Environmental Science, Life Science And Social Sciences Both At Undergraduate And Postgraduate Levels. People From A Wide Variety Of Other Disciplines Like Civil, Chemical And Environmental Engineering; Pollution Control Authorities; Industries; And Practicing Engineers, Consultants And Researchers Will Also Find The Book Of Great Interest.
Environmental issues are playing an increasingly important role in the textile industry, both from the point of view of government regulation and consumer expectations. Sustainable textiles reviews ways of achieving more sustainable materials and technologies as well as improving recycling in the industry. The first part of the book discusses ways of improving sustainability at various points in the supply chain. Chapters discuss how sustainability can be integrated into textile design, ensuring more sustainable production of both natural and synthetic fibres, improving sustainability in processes such as dyeing as well as more environmentally-friendly technologies including enzyme and plasma technologies. The second part of the book reviews consumer perceptions of recycled textiles, eco-labelling, organic textiles and the use of recycled materials in textile products. With a distinguished editor and an impressive range of international contributors, Sustainable textiles is an important reference for the textile industry and those researching this important topic.
The concept of an eco-label for products of commerce continues to evolve. The textile industry in particular is now facing an explosion of various textile labeling concepts. This chapter examines the types, roles and reasons for eco-labels, how the process of eco-labeling has evolved, and forecasts future developments.