How effective can European Initiatives be……

The article in the link,  refers to the potential closure of 893 Indian processing plants due to issues with the effluent discharge etc. It seems the confrontation between the textile unit owners and the government is on the cost of setting up the common effluent treatment plant (CETP) which is estimated to cost around Rs 110-120 crore.

This poses an important and very relevant conundrum, there are many retailers and NGO’s in the western world active on a daily basis producing road maps and initiatives for a cleaner production and effluent reduction.  These initiatives come about after months of study and development.  What then happens when local politics and bureaucracy gets in the way,  there is no practical development of the ideas.  If the mill owners and local authorities do not implement the “initiatives” nothing will change and all the work will simply be a piece of paper sat on a shelf to be updated at some point in the future.

Without the mill owners and local authorities being invested in any projects and actually doing the work is there any chance of success?  it seems to me that the answer is obviously no.  This is the definite sales scenario of you have the best product in the world but no one wants to buy it.  With a product you can try to understand why the market is not buying and make changes,  so that whatever is stopping sales can be removed.  When you are dealing with apathy and political economic resistance there is nothing much you can do.

The real power lays with the retailers who could stop sourcing from offending mills,  but in a market where profit is everything,  will retail organisations make that change and potentially go to a supplier who charges £2 a garment more.  I think not and I also think the suppliers know this.  So we are stuck in a horrible cycle of good intention not being carried through for the sake of profit or apathy.   You can only shame through the media a retailer so much and that opens another question if you can buy a pair of jeans of £5 do you really care where it came from?  How many consumers seriously buy on ethical grounds.  The growth of cheap clothing I believe shows that many consumers only really want a bargain and how that gets to the shelves is not really their concern.  I always hope that initiatives will have make real changes and provide benefit for all along the supply chain at the moment I am not convinced the infra structure or desire is there to effect real lasting change.

Ian Smith CText ATI is a textile professional based in the UK, and is the MD of Textile Consult Ltd, a business consultancy that services the textile industry, offering textile training, dyehouse and processing consultancy and project management for wet processing, colour measurement and fabric construction projects.

Did this blog inspire you?  Contact Ian to discuss your project on +44 (0) 1622 370843 to find out how Textile Consult Ltd can help you.


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