Waste minimization guide for textile industry (2000)

Funded by: Water Research Commission

Partner organisations: Partners in Development, eThekwini Water and Sanitation

Project description
The South African textile industry is the sixth largest employer in the manufacturing sector, with 80 000 people employed directly, an additional 200 000 indirectly in dependent industries and supports 80 000 cotton workers. It has local annual sales of R 7.7-billion and is the eleventh largest exported of manufactured goods. In addition, it is the second largest user of electricity from Eskom and the second largest rate payer of rates and taxes in towns and cities across South Africa.

The South African textile industry is currently facing a number of challenges with respect to the environment and international competition. Environment related issues include the increasing cost of water; the increasing cost of effluent treatment and/or disposal; more stringent regulations being implemented by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF), especially in terms of colour, toxicity and salinity; and the introduction of the ISO 14000 series of standards and ecolabels. In addition, the limited water resources in South Africa emphasises the importance of encouraging industries to implement water and effluent management strategies and reduce waste at source. With the lowering of the textile tariffs, the industry is faced with increasing competition and, in order for it to survive, it must become more export orientated. This therefore exposes the South African
manufacturer to the environmental pressures facing industries in Europe, Japan and the United States of America.

Numerous publications exist as to the methodology of conducting a waste minimisation survey and describing the advantages of reducing waste at source, some of which are written specifically for the textile industry. However, it was felt that although these publications were useful, no guide existed that worked systematically through each phase of conducting a waste minimisation survey, from the planning through to implementation, including target key performance indicator figures for benchmarking and explanations on mass balances for the specific textile processes. Therefore, a two-year project (sponsored by the WRC) was initiated to develop a detailed guide to assist the industry and its employees in conducting waste minimisation surveys and implementing cleaner production technology.

The main aims of the project were to :
  • Transfer the technology and experience gained by the Pollution Research Group to the South African textile industry in a range of readily accessible media (posters, books, auditing guides, CD ROM disks, etc.);
  • Enable the South African textile industry to implement their own waste minimisation and pollution prevention programmes;
  • Educate and train the textile industry employees in pollution prevention strategies; and
  • Enable the South African textile industry to be internationally competitive