India is facing a water crisis, as groundwater dries up and untreated wastewater pollutes bodies of water. In response to this rising problem, the nation mandated a Zero Liquid Discharge strategy for sectors such as textiles to improve water efficiency. In this model, industrial and municipal wastewater is recycled for reuse, preventing any H2O from flowing into rivers.
Treating effluents is typically an energy-consuming and chemically based process, however. Reverse osmosis and activated sludge treatments release roughly 5,500 tons of carbon dioxide per year, per estimates from JSP Enviro. Coupled with the environmental cost, water treatment is a pricey endeavor.
“The high cost is a deterrent to small-scale industries, which leads to unregulated effluent discharge,” said Priya Mani, director of JSP Group. “This discharge has a range of social, environmental and health impacts on the surrounding areas, hence a need to develop an economical and sustainable water treatment system has become a priority for the textile industry.”
Recognizing this need, JSP Enviro developed a self-sustaining effluent treatment process. Microbial fuel cell technology prepares water for reuse while also generating energy, removing the need for an external power source.
One of the challenges JSP Enviro faced was turning its technology into a commercialized solution, and the company credits support from the Indian government with helping it develop the product. Currently, it can be used for dyeing units that generate discharges of up to 1 million liters per day, and the firm is working to scale up the solution so it can be used for larger dyeing facilities.
“Our main obstacle is to successfully implement the technology on a large scale, and it should be adopted by the governing body and the industries,” said Mani. “In general, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the textile industry has been severely affected economically. We hope a quick revival in that sector will aid the industries to invest in sustainable practices that are necessary for the current situation.”
Along with its effluent treatment technology, JSP Enviro is focused on water management with restoration projects that turn polluted lakes into a clean source of water for local communities. Mani predicts a global “severe water crisis,” making water efficiency a critical sustainability goal.
What’s the most important issue the fashion industry has yet to address?
“To achieve sustainability in the fashion industry, it is the responsibility of the brand partners to support the manufacturers in the process. Sustainability in the fashion industry needs to be addressed in all the processes from cradle to grave.”
Sourcing Journal’s Sustaining Voices celebrates the efforts the apparel industry is making toward securing a more environmentally responsible future through creative innovations, scalable solutions and forward-thinking initiatives that are spinning intent into action.
See more of our Sustaining Voices honorees and their stories, here.