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Textile Players Can Clean Up Their Act With This Free Wastewater Resource

Looking to improve your wastewater footprint? The Sustainability Consortium wants to help.

On Wednesday, the global nonprofit, whose members include Amazon, Fruit of the Loom, Hanes Brands, Walmart, NC State University, Cotton Incorporated, the U.S. Department of Energy and ZDHC, launched a free resource to educate the textile manufacturing industry about the causes, impact and treatment of wastewater.

The Wastewater 101 Toolbox, as the platform is called, seeks to reduce the impact of clothing and textile production by not only communicating the business case for wastewater treatment but also integrating “new standards, knowledge and resources across all part of the textile supply chain.”

“The Wastewater 101 Toolbox fills a need—the need to easily connect people with resources and information about properly treating wastewater,” Sarah Lewis, senior director of innovation at the Sustainability Consortium, said in a statement.

“Resources and information about wastewater treatment have been available but hard to find in one place,” she added. “As a result of this industry collaboration, people can now more easily learn about wastewater and its impacts, share resources about treatment and access information that helps them take action.”

The Toolbox, she added, is a “living and breathing resource,” one that connects users to “globally relevant resources” specific to 17 of the world’s biggest textiles-producing countries—China, India, Turkey and Vietnam included. For ease of navigation, it’s divided into three major categories; participants can learn about the risks associated with untreated wastewater, take action by leveraging a slate of options or share their experiences with the community at large.

“We were pleased to take part in the development of this Toolbox,” said Adam Wade, senior director of sustainability and risk management at Fruit of the Loom, which was part of the member task force behind the Toolbox. “The project was a perfect fit to apply our core environmental values that include commitments to activities directed toward the presentation and conservation of our natural resources and educating and encouraging our employees in the preservation of our natural resources.”

The World Bank estimates that between 17 percent to 20 percent of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and finishing.  More than 10,000 textile dyes are manufactured in excess of 700,00 tons per year, according to ZDHC. Because only 50 percent to 95 percent of the dyes used are fixated onto fabric, roughly 280,000 tons are discharged annually as effluent.