COLLABORATION

Wastewater 101: Textile firms get environmental lessons from US universities

SOURCE: Volha Flaxeco/Unsplash
The Wastewater 101 Toolbox provides ample resources to educate the public on wastewater management in the textile industry.

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) led by the University of Arkansas and the University of Arizona has launched an online information hub to teach the textile industry the importance of wastewater management.

Dubbed the Wastewater 101 Toolbox, the free online resource presents a strong business case for wastewater treatment and helps manufacturers, retailers and brands improve their wastewater footprint to reduce the adverse impact of their operations on the environment.

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According to the site, over 20 percent of water pollution worldwide is linked to textile production.

Water used by textile businesses to produce yarns and fabrics often contain chemicals and artificial dyes that can be harmful to the environment if they are discharged to watersheds untreated.

This could exacerbate local water scarcity problems, pollute entire watersheds and harm other industries that rely on the same water source, such as agriculture and fishing.

The toolbox will help prevent this, serving as an information centre where textiles brands, retailers, manufacturers, designers, and even the general public can access education, training, and resources related to wastewater management.

Textile Industry
University experts worked with leading textile brands to develop the toolbox. Source: Cam Morin/Unsplash.

The toolbox was created by a TSC-member task force comprising leaders of the textile industry, namely Hanes Brands, Fruit of the Loom, Walmart, North Carolina State, Cotton Inc., and the US Department of Energy. 

Users will be able to access a wide array of globally relevant resources specific to 17 of the world’s biggest textiles-producing countries. The site is organised through the use of tags to curate search results more effectively, making it a valuable resource to develop a sustainable textile industry. 

“The Wastewater 101 Toolbox fills a need – the need to easily connect people with resources and information about properly treating wastewater. Resources and information about wastewater treatment have been available but hard to find in one place,” said TSC senior director of innovation and University of Arkansas adjunct professor Sarah Lewis in a media release. 

“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.”

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The involved textile industry partners in this collaborative effort are committed to bringing awareness in the impact of wastewater in their field as it is one step forward towards building more sustainable measures in the years to come. 

“The textile industry is very competitive. We believe in a level playing field when it comes to the proper treatment and disposal of wastewater, which is a very important issue,” said Hanes Brands director of energy and sustainability Philip Henson.

“We were pleased to take part in the development of this 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,” added Fruit of the Loom Inc. senior director of sustainability and risk management Adam Wade. 

Founded in 2009, the TSC celebrates 10 years of providing the best sustainability science to global businesses to create more sustainable consumer products. 

The Wastewater 101 Toolbox is merely one of the many initiatives to come and all members of the public are free to access their informative and training resources here