Groundwater and Bangladesh’s RMG & textile sector

by Apparel Resources

14-August-2019  |  6 mins read

Bangladesh Garment Sector
Image Courtesy: newsdeeply.imgix.net

As per a 2014 report published by partners for Water Programme of the Netherlands in cooperation with the Government, Bangladesh’s textile industry consumes around 1,500 billion litres of groundwater a year for washing and dyeing fabrics!

As most of the garment factories are situated in Dhaka, Gazipur, Savar and Narayangonj areas, the use of groundwater in these places is comparatively higher even though high levels of ground water usage are prevalent in all the hubs that have RMG and textile manufacturing units.

The result… As per Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation’s zoning map (2004 and 2010), groundwater level is lowering and lowering fast, which has emerged as a major concern for everyone.

To address this situation, stakeholders are now working in the right earnest, be it the brands, retailers, NGOs, the Government and even the individual manufacturers.

The Water PACT Bangladesh led by IFC is one of the major partnerships that have been founded to drive the wet processing in textile sector in the country towards a more sustainable performance and better water and resource efficiency. There are also a few examples of big fashion brands working to improve and safeguard their water usage.

Levi’s, in partnership with one of its Chinese suppliers, recently made 100,000 pairs of jeans using 100 per cent recycled water. In 2012, WWF and H&M conducted an evaluation of H&M’s water-related challenges, to evaluate the company’s new water strategy. Under its water strategy, H&M has stated the five steps; one of them is internal action: improving the use of water and reducing pollution within their operations and suppliers’ factories. In this regard, H&M has already started looking for water-efficient factories while placing orders.

Even the individual players are not missing in this much-needed endeavour.

The fabric division of the Northern Tosrifa Group is one such prominent name. “Whether it is about trying innovative new techniques or discovering cutting-edge technology to lead the industry into a more sustainable future, Tosrifa Industries Limited (TIL) is always at the forefront…,” maintained Mohim Hassan, CEO, Northern Tosrifa Group, the recent addition to which has been the TIL Fabric Division.

As per the company’s website, TIL has been able to save around 14 million litres of water using environment-friendly techniques.

Tosrifa Industries’ garment unit is LEED Gold certified, and for its new dyeing facility for the fabric division, the Group has applied for LEED certification, which would make it the first knit dyeing unit in Bangladesh to be LEED certified.

“In textile division (dyeing), getting green certification is easier said than done. But, when we planned the project (fabric unit), our target from the very beginning was to go for green. Keeping that in mind, machines were selected accordingly so that fabric could be dyed using Cold Pad-Batch (CPB) process. In this procedure, water requirement is very less vis-à-vis the conventional methods. If we use 80-90 litres of water to dye one kilogram of fabric in usual process, CPB cuts down water requirement to 25-26 litres/kilogram of fabric,” briefed Mohim.

The CPB method is more environment-friendly due to high dye fixation and non-requirement of thermal energy. The ETP plant for TIL’s new dyeing unit has also been designed keeping the same in perspective.

Another name in this context is Shasha Denims Limited, which has acquired EOS Textile (The Italian giant with a legacy of 130 years and operating in Bangladesh since 1998). 

It is interesting to know that sustainability is not really new to EOS Textile and it is the only 100 per cent zero discharge company in Bangladesh. The systems here are highly efficient and it is also the only textile mill in Bangladesh that has foam finishing, so no water is being used.

The next in line is Mahmud Group’s jeans manufacturing unit. “Wash is very crucial in jeans and we want to impart sustainable washes without compromising on the effects and feel attained via traditional methods while being eco-friendly and efficient,” explained Ruwan Kumara Jayasinghe, Head of Wash, Mahmud Fashions Limited. Through the use of Jeanologia’s system (an efficient combination of laser technology, ozone and the eFlow nanobubbles), Mahmud Fashions has managed to cut down on water consumption while also minimising the ecological footprints.

“Discharge is now reduced considerably. Usually one needs 70 litres of water for a pair of jeans but water consumption has been brought down to 20-25 litres/pair of jeans…,” Ruwan asserted.

What’s more, to record the progress made, Mahmud is using Jeanologia’s Environmental Impact Measurement (EIM) software to measure and document each step in the manufacturing spectrum.

Further, players like WaterAid, Bangladesh Rain Forum, BUET, etc., have also started working together with factories towards rainwater harvesting and use subsequently for dyeing and washing.

Given the efforts being put in by the stakeholders, it’s just a matter of time before the issue of depleting groundwater is addressed comprehensively.

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