Textile industries play important role in developing economies of countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh. This sector was amongst the first few sectors to go through the industrialization process, and today it is one of Pakistan and Bangladesh most important economic sectors. Pakistan is the land of many textile industries, around more than 400 spinning units, 124 large spinning units and more than 1,200 ginning units. The textile industry in Pakistan is one of the most high-priority sector responsible for the economic growth of the country. It is a vital contributor to the country’s industrial export. The market segments of this sector includes clothing, garments, readymade fabrics, weave apparel, twisting sectors and textile chemical processing sector, the chain also includes finishing, made-ups, garments, towel and hosieries.
In Asia, Pakistan is the 8th largest exporter of textile products, with the 3rd largest spinning capacity by contributing 5 per cent to the global spinning capacity after China and India, and the 4th largest producer of cotton. One of the reasons behind this is Pakistan’s substantial agricultural productivity in growing cotton annually over million hectares of land after wheat and rice.
However, pursuing such exports with time has increased waste generation leading to harmful environmental impacts. The major environmental effects include the discharge of copious amounts of chemical loads because of the high consumption of water and harmful chemicals used in this industry. As well as the associated water pollution, high energy consumption in manufacturing processes and related air emissions, packaging and solid waste production issues, and the formation of unpleasant odors caused by bleaching, dyeing, and printing processes.
To summarize, textile manufacturing consumes a significant amount of water and chemicals. The garment industry worldwide uses an estimated 79 billion cubic meters of fresh water per year across its whole value chain.
When it comes to regulating water use and wastewater treatment in Pakistan, the textile industry is frequently overlooked. However, considering an acute water crisis for sectors and mounting pressure from regulatory authorities and worldwide clients, large textile players have begun to focus on increasing water efficiency and developing wastewater treatment and reuse technologies.
However, this is not the case for the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). These SMEs have been confronting various issues that are causing them to adhere to the local environmental laws and regulations only partially. Lack of management engagement, financial resources, technology constraints, lack of employee involvement, lack of government incentives, uncertainty about environmental regulation changes, and lack of capacity of industry owners and staff are some of the significant problems. Furthermore, the current scarcity demands for water conservation at each step of textile manufacturing such as reusing wash water, opting for concurrent washing methods and more. However, the SMEs in the sector are unable to afford such techniques thereby increasing the environmental impacts in negative connotations.
Only 15 per cent of Pakistan’s municipal and industrial wastewater is treated before being disposed off. Most wet textile manufacturers treat only а small portion (at best) of their effluent before dumping it into the Arabian Sea.
The effluent treatment plant instillation problems are connected to building costs and space requirements. As they require expensive capital, complicated technology, specialized operators, mechanical replacement parts, high energy, and а sludge disposal location, Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) can be costly to build and maintain. However, as the quantity/quality of waste produced increases, so does the capital cost, operational cost, land area, and complexity of effluent treatment technology. The other major factor is that both the public and commercial sectors have failed to realize the necessity of wastewater treatment and the availability of safe drinking water.
Moreover, one of the key causes for the inadequate implementation of current environmental legislation is that Pakistan did not spend resources on strengthening the ability of environmental managers, lawyers, specialists, and experts to administer and implement these laws and regulations. Budgetary allocations for trainings were ignored, and no Environmental Laborarities with advanced technology to monitor and analyze data were established.
The proper adoption of water and wastewater recovery and reuse, in-time water-related maintenance, and doable process modification for water conservation which is to be ensured by optimizing water-use efficiency with the development of а water management system that includes continuous water consumption patterns of each process.
Regular monitoring of the wastewater quality produced by processes, as well as a check on chemical inventories, could lead to the detection of add-ons that have a negative impact.
To maintain and stabilize the whole operation, standard operating procedures should be devised based on several situations and variations of received influent.
Chemical ionic /TDS load reduction during processing: optimal use of salts, dyes, and alkali.
The availability and technical skills of specialists and Knowledge-Intensive Business Services (KIBS) to conduct EIAs and analyze and approve projects environmental impacts. Baseline data availability and quality, particularly for ecological systems: the physical and chemical qualities of the soil, air, and water, as well as social and demographic data on local communities, should be included in this baseline data to enable for an assessment of the impact on the local people and potential vulnerabilities.
To ensure environmental compliances, the government should offer finance to the SME’s so that they can arrange the necessary technological equipment such as the wastewater treatment plants.
The policy tool of stick and carrot should be used to ensure environmental compliances to promote transparency and sustainability.
Carbon credits should be introduced to the textile sector in Pakistan. They are a way to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions by providing enterprises with a monetary incentive to reduce their carbon emissions. The SMEs should be especially targeted for this.
To improve the effectiveness of the legal and institutional arrangements, a credible monitoring and enforcement system should be put in place, as well as state-of-the-art technologies and modern approaches. Around 80 per cent of industrial units are medium and small-sized businesses with limited understanding of environmental difficulties and other factors, as well as technical ability and financial means to address these challenges.
To address these concerns, it is necessary to offer textile industries with ongoing technical assistance for self-monitoring of pollution levels, which they can then report to regulatory agencies such as EPAs for a climate resilient, sustainable Pakistan.