Well the size of the ETP (Effluent Treatment Plant). In the UK in the 1980’s the textile industry started to feel the pinch of increasing legislation when it came to the effluent it was producing. New legislation and rules came in and the industry suddenly had to care and take control over how it processed its by products. Ultimately the cost of building these plants and the fines for not meeting the consent levels were one of the reasons that the industry moved overseas.
It was not the only reason and the situation with cheaper production/ labour etc is something for another time.
Now the rest of the textile world is facing the same issues that the UK faced 30 years ago, we hear reports of dyehouses in India being closed for not meeting consent levels and the ZDHC ( Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) initiative led by Greenpeace is starting to bite and making the industry take more responsibility and actually look at how it works.
As I said in the past visits have been made to some of the worlds leading textile producers and when it comes to ETP’s, great pride is taken in the size and the volumes per hour that the ETP can handle. The significant downside to this situation is that it does not deal with the fundamental issue – reducing the waste produced. Instead the industry ignores the production efficiencies and new technology that would mean less effluent is produced in the first place and just spends a lot of money on building a bigger plant to deal with the waste.
Surely if the industry is trying to be truly more environmentally friendly it would be better to look at the process and reduce the effluent in the first place, with the use of standing bath technologies and lower liquor ratios it is relatively easy, and more importantly quite cost effective, to work in a greener way. I wonder why the industry does not embrace these kinds of technology more, and in its place just build bigger and bigger concrete storage tanks, is this truly a cheaper and more environmentally friendly situation ?
The English phrase ” wake up and smell the roses” refers to a time when someone understands fully a situation and works to make changes. I hope one day that the textile industry will ” wake up and not smell the effluent”