China: Sharing achievements in cleaner production of textile processing

During a result sharing workshop Solidaridad China concluded its second small cleaner production pilot project for the textile wet processing industry in the Yangtze River Delta region. The participating factories presented their achievements; four factories jointly implemented 34 improvement options.

The textile dyeing, printing and washing process, also referred to as textile “wet processes” is highly energy, water and chemical intensive. In an era of increased pressure on fresh water resources, energy shortages and increased pollution; more brands, retailers and their value chain partners are looking at ways to improve production performance. In 2011 Solidaridad Network started a pilot project in the Yangtze River Delta region (China), to identify an approach that supports the factories most effectively in the identification and implementation of improvements. Financial support for the project was provided by the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, with co-funding from the participating brands and factories.

In the pilot, a small number of factories received a combination of tailor made support and group training to support them in the implementation of better practices. The factory level support consisted of a baseline assessment and a number of follow up visits. In addition, a series of workshops and group meetings had been organised, to provide training on important topics and to allow for knowledge exchange and cross-learning between the different factories.

A variety of topics were addressed, among these, the concept of Cleaner Production, best practice examples from China as well as technical topics and best available technologies, such as energy savings and waste water treatment.

How best available technologies can assist in cleaner production

In the result sharing workshop, the participating factories presented their experiences, challenges, but most importantly their achievements. The four factories together implemented 34 improvement options. These ranged from installing metering equipment and insulation, to replacing outdated and inefficient machinery and improving the handling and storage of chemicals. All of the presentations included the next steps that the various internal Cleaner Production teams have identified for implementation; which is an indication of the long-term sustainability of the project with each of the participants.

The approach of the implementation team has been able to achieve just that, which was mentioned as being the most difficult “making technological improvements is not that complicated, changing the mindset of the people involved is” – a point made by a technical Cleaner Production expert. Solidaridad in partnership with a number of front runner brands and suppliers expects to launch a scale-up of the programme in the Yangtze River Delta in the second half of 2013.

For more information on the pilot or the future programme contact: Zhao Lin (Solidaridad, China) or Marieke Weerdesteijn (Solidaridad, The Netherlands).