The demand for eco friendly materials and textiles in recent years has considerably increased and therefore more emphasis is laid on sustainable clothing. It is a known fact that textile industries are causing harm by polluting the environment throughout the world. Hence, it has become crucial for the textile industries all over the world, to switch to sustainable dyes, to ensure least harmful materials are used, while producing clothes and are also eco- friendly.
Textile industries rank second in the world for polluting clean water. It releases some 72 toxic chemicals into water from textile dyeing. Unfortunately, some of these chemicals cannot be removed. All the processes in the textile industry, from dyeing to rinsing use large amount of water. For dyeing factories it is easy to throw away the effluent water rather than cleaning it and re-using it.
As a result gallons of waste water are thrown away by mills every year, which contains harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, chlorine, lead and mercury. These chemicals are harmful for both living beings and environment. Lots of chemicals go into different processes which turns cotton into cloth. Another chain of chemicals are used to dye the cotton and to fix these dyes.
Further, the fields and rivers in Mexico near the jeans manufacturing factories are changing into dark blue because of chemicals in the water that are thrown away without any treatment. The local habitants are concerned about the health hazards it is creating as the food they eat are grown in these fields. Therefore, it has become essential to aim towards manufacturing sustainable clothing.
It is not only the responsibility of the textile mills to manufacture sustainable textiles. In fact every organization involved in this process must support this cause. Brands must strongly co-operate with the manufacturing factories to embrace clean technology and processes thereby stopping further damage to the environment. It is only when textile industry partners, and supply chain members work together; manufacturing eco- friendly clothing using sustainable dyes can be accomplished.
Moreover, to create sustainable clothing one need to ensure that chemicals used are least damaging and maximum use of natural materials is done from fiber to the finished goods stage. Also, in the process of manufacturing, it is necessary to aim at minimal use of energy till the final stage. Shifting from regular cotton to organic cotton has helped in maintaining the human and natural surroundings to be free from chemicals. In addition natural and easily revived fibre like viscose from bamboo involves less energy.
With more consumer awareness and certification systems coming into existence, today the textile companies are focusing more on using sustainable dyes. At present environment friendly dyestuffs are used to rebuild a better environment. Today’s fashion world’s most popular choice is organic cotton. It is widely accepted by global standards and certification systems and hence will stay in the textile market. It has become the first preference of brands who wish to enter into the sustainable line.
There are few global standards and certification system which have been set to achieve standardized sustainable textile. The first criterion in this line is to use minimum 70% of organic fibres to manufacture textile. Further, the chemicals used in the dyeing must fulfill certain standards in accordance with environment and toxicology. The subsidiary chemicals used also must meet the ecological criteria. It is compulsory for all the factories involved in wet-processing to have an efficient waste water treatment plant.
The only goal of these globally defined standards is to ensure that sustainable clothing is manufactured.
To achieve this position all the processes and materials used from raw materials to the finished goods are produced adhering to the global standards. It ensures that the end consumer gets a product that is environment friendly and socially responsible. Following these standards the textile manufacturers must be able to reach all the major markets with organic fabrics and apparels they manufacture.
Moving forward, to attain sustainable dyes following norms should be fulfilled. There is a ban on certain chemicals which are highly toxic such as formaldehyde, azo dyes as they release carcinogenic compounds, pungent solvents, toxic heavy metals, genetically modified organisms and their enzymes. The use of synthetic sizing agents is limited. There should not be heavy metal content in knitting and weaving oils. Also bleaches used must not contain chlorine.
In addition, fragmented solvents used in discharge printing and phthalates and PVC used in plastisol printing methods have been banned. Also, the use of accessories like use of PVC, nickel or chrome is prohibited. Apart from having efficient waste water treatment plants, factories must keep records regarding which chemicals are used, energy and water consumed, treatment of waste water along with details of slushy disposal. It is compulsory to treat the waste water in the treatment plant before its disposal.
Also, there are technical quality limitations that need to be followed. Care must be taken to see that unwanted remains from raw materials, finished textile product even accessories are limited. It is essential that the industries that supply chemicals co-operate with the global certified standards and follow their approved methods. These global standards have examined thousands of dyestuffs, and auxiliaries, and have approved more than 3000 dyestuffs and 400 auxiliaries.
It has become crucial for major suppliers of textile to Europe and USA to adhere to the above global standards and other upcoming standards. Due to strict environmental laws the brands and retailers even in the developing nations are avoiding substances and chemicals which are banned. It is important for the supply chain members to be aware of the prohibited chemicals involved in textile manufacturing.
In the textile industry the use of natural dyes is regaining its importance. It is strongly referred to replace the synthetic dyes foreseeing the problems and environmental hazards it brings. A collaborated effort from brand, textile manufacturers, supply chain partner and retailers will help to achieve the standards set to manufacture sustainable textile products.