Mahesh Sharma  


Meeta Shingala


Testtex India Laboratories Pvt. Ltd.


Every manufacturing, processing or preparation of a product through use of resources inadvertently produces a waste as well. Thus waste can be considered as misplaced resource. Waste generated requires suitable treatment for its safe disposal, to protect living beings, environment, ecology along with flora & fauna.

Consumer awareness in the matters of environmental and health problems has a direct bearing on textiles and clothing’s. Buyers are more informed about the pollutants in close-to-the-skin textiles like bedsheets and under-garments. New information concerning allergy and cancer-inducing chemicals in materials force consumers and manufactures to react. In developed countries consumer has right to know what input materials have gone in the production, whether product is free of or within limit for left over residual chemicals along with meeting environmental and social obligations during the production processes.


All wastes can be broadly classified into four main categories:

  • Hard to treat waste
  • Highly dispersible waste
  • Hazardous/toxic waste
  • High volume waste

Hard-to-treat waste: – Waste which persists or resists to normal treatments are referred as hard-to-treat waste. These waste include colour, metals, phosphates, phenols and certain organic materials specially surfactants which resist bio-degradation. Extremely expensive and very difficult processes will be involved for their removal through waste water treatment.

Highly dispersible waste: – Certain waste, if allowed to discharge: tend to become widely dispersed and hard to treat. It is advisable to reduce or to collect such waste at source. Machinery modification, process modification, Chemical Modification, Change in procedure or other primary control measures can often accomplish better results with such type of wastes at lower cost than the treatment. Such reclaimed waste in concentrated form usually has a high commercial reuse value.

Hazardous/toxic waste: – This includes metals and various types of organic materials and surfactants of high aquatic toxicity. It is advisable to affect chemical substitution in such cases. Since treatment of these hazardous or toxic process wastes give rise to undesirable solids in the form of hazardous sludge.

High Volume Waste :- Sometimes large volume wastes can be reduced by process modification or chemical substitution or they are either reused on-site or off-site.

Each of the above type of waste originates from a variety of textile operations.


Many treatment systems simply remove an undesirable process waste or by-product from one media and capture it in another. For e.g.scrubbers on smokestacks remove undesirable combustion product by dissolving them in water. Another example is the biodegradation of chemical waste in textile waste water, which produces waste sludge (a solid waste). These solids have to be disposed and traditional land filling of sludge has an associated problem of contamination of ground water. Thus, treatment strategies tend to create a chain of waste production which leads to expenses and liability of various type.

An important alternate is source reduction. This concept helps to determine changes which can be made to reduce waste at the source.

Different techniques of source reductions often used are :

  • Raw material control
  • Conservation/optimization of chemicals
  • Chemical substitution
  • Process modification
  • Equipment modification
  • Maintenance Procedures
  • Housekeeping
  • Waste recovery (for reuse/recycle)
  • Segregation

Combinations of these techniques may be used to achieve substantial savings. Such savings keep on increasing with the ever rising coat of inputs. On the other hand, losses and costs of waste treatment will produce an ever increasing economic disadvantage to processors.

Raw material control, optimization of chemicals and chemical substitution are important techniques of source reduction. Theses also forms integral part of chemical management.In totality, they aims towards cleaner production by helping to meet requirement of eco labeling and discharge standards along with meeting regulations such as REACH for SVHC (Substances of Very High Concern), GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals).

Increasingly large number of chemicals have now been categorized as toxic, carcinogenic allergenic or hazardous, Use of such chemicals is undesirable and thus loosing favour.

Raw material control includes identification of the harmful chemicals and their probable source in fibres, in sizing ingredients, certain dyes, preparation chemicals and finishing chemicals etc. Safety data sheet of each input to be referred for LC 50 or IC 50 values and the biodegradability of the product in addition to safe handling procedures or should be confirmed by testing prior to use.

Avoid use of toxic, carcinogenic and allergenic banned dyes, chlorine based bleaching agentsand chlorinated solvents (which give rise to the problem of AOX) and other toxic pesticides& chemicals which persistsbiodegradation and thus are bio-accumulative.

It also include minimizing the quantities of restricted chemicals like formaldehyde, sulphides and heavy metal salts etc.

Chemical substitution for harmful chemicals is an important task. The environment forces are driving chemical manufactures to provide new, friendly and “green” preparations and finishing chemicals are being developed and these are surely going to sweep away the traditional agents.

   Good housekeeping does not necessarily means sweeping or cleaning of the chemicals and water which spills over or falls on the floor, but avoiding their spillage by proper handling. Sweeping or cleaning transfers the chemicals in to the effluent thus increasing the load on effluent treatment.

  Other element of source reduction contributes towards conservation of natural resources – Energy and Water, which are becoming costly and scare day by day.


Our current economy is based on the ‘Take-Make- Dispose’ model. It is an extractive industrial model also called linear economy. It has increasingly become clear that the linear economy is no longer tenable within the limits of our planet. The linear economy has put pressure on resources, energy and materials. It has also increased pollution and unleashed toxicity on earth through increased ‘Making-Taking- Disposing’ of products and materials, (Waste) leading to irreversible environmental issues. The resource consumption has doubled in the period 1980-2020, and will triple in the period up to 2050 when business-as-usual models are followed. All of this waste leads to the four Big Blunders – they are Buried or Burnt or accumulated in our Bodies or are blowing around on earth. The linear economy is not sustainable.

We have to look beyond the linear economy. The traditional practice of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle is necessary but not sufficient. The degree of environmental and health damage caused necessitates us to look beyond this. A circular economy is an alternative in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. In other words circular economy improves sustainability through maximizing resource utilization and minimizing waste production.


  • Decreased waste liability (waste collection, handling and treatment costs)
  • Decreased loss of material & energy, i.e. more profits
  • Possibility of recycling to have recovery value of waste
  • Meeting requirement of eco labels& discharge standards.
  • Compatible with philosophy of regulations like REACH, GOTS and ZDHC.
  • Promotes Circular Economy.