Sustainable textile wet processing requires holistic approach

The use of hazardous chemicals and inadequate treatment of the effluents in textile dyeing and finishing is now high on the agenda thanks to NGO campaigns. Solidaridad feels however that solving the issue of discharge of hazardous chemicals needs a holistic approach, with a wider scope on environmental performance: energy savings, quality improvement, waste reduction and water savings as well as on discharge of chemicals.

Solidaridad works together with front runner brands&retailers to improve the sustainability performance of apparel supply chains. Addressing the environmental issues in the wet processing has been an important component in the Solidaridad Fashion program for years already. We have run successful pilot programs in Bangladesh and China and are now in the phase of rolling out the concept. The pilots show that a holistic approach has many benefits, it allows for example to balance investments needed (such as waste water treatment) with the financial savings that many improvements (e.g. resource savings) bring about.

The projects are set up in geographical clusters with 10-15 factories (suppliers of partner brands&retailers such as H&M, G-Star and Primark), working on practical improvement measures. The concept of cleaner production is central in these projects. The key success of these projects is a combination of state-of-art technical support in the factory and creating a platform among the participating factories for sharing experiences and best practises. The results are very tangible and motivating all stakeholders to continue to develop further improvements. At the same time, we work on local capacity building (such as institutes and consultants) and engage with government agencies, to ensure embedding and scaling up of the initiated processes.

Next to a range of brands and retailers, partners in this work include the International Finance Corporation and Royal Netherlands Embassy for the work in Bangladesh and Zhejiang University in China and ASN Bank.

For more information please contact:

Marieke Weerdesteijn (REC The Netherlands)

Ranjeeb Sarma (REC South South East Asia)

Zhao Lin (REC China)


Additional reading about this topic:
Bangladesh pollution clean-up: Solidaridad, Dutch government and industrial sector sign agreement

Schone kleren, een ilussie? – Trouw (Dutch Newspaper)