Using Water With Care

The textile dyeing and finishing industry is one of the heaviest global consumers of water and energy. For every ton of product produced, another 10 tons of wastewater are discharged.

Project Basel, TE’s efforts to consolidate and move operations concentrated in Switzerland to other facilities closer to today’s textile market, had a major impact on sustainability.

In all, almost 400 products were transferred to other sites under an “improve, then move” strategy that saw significant innovations introduced to TE plants around the world.

As a result, the division significantly reduced its environmental footprint, using 43 percent less energy, generating 37 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, 46 percent less hazardous waste and 64 percent less chemical oxygen demand (COD) in liquid effluent.

Water consumption was reduced by 30 percent in an industry that consumes vast amounts of water. In the textile industry, 40 tons of water are used to produce one ton of material.

“If you have three plants producing the same color dye in three different locations, you have three times the water requirements. When we shut down our operations in Basel, we consolidated plants by color and chemistry to significantly reduce water requirements for production and the amount of water discharge,” notes Barry Griffin, vice president of operations, Textile Effects.

During Project Basel, Textile Effects changed some of its processes to become much more efficient in cleanout procedures, increasing output of its plants without the need for additional water supplies. Before the consolidation effort, TE was discharging 12 tons of water per one ton of dye produced. Today, that number has been cut in half.

The team also employed advanced technologies to improve effluent treatment at plants, removing hazardous chemicals to significantly improve the overall quality of water being discharged. The changes are critical as countries around the world are taking measures to protect water resources. Many of the major textile-producing nations are in regions of acute water scarcity, where reducing the industry’s need for water could have an immediate and substantial positive impact. In China, the government is significantly reducing water volumes that can be used by the textile industry, and in Mexico, the water table is lowering significantly due to drought.

Besides optimizing its processes to conserve water resources, TE has also introduced innovative products that reduce the environmental footprint. Its AVITERA® SE dyes significantly reduce water and energy consumption and related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions during the dyeing and washing-off process by up to 50 percent.

“If the entire world’s reactive dyed cotton was processed with AVITERA® SE,” says Griffin, “more than 820 billion liters of water per year could be saved – the equivalent of 1.3 liters of fresh water per person per day in the major Asian textile-processing countries, such as India, Bangladesh and China.” In 2014, AVITERA® SE took top honors in the ICIS Innovation Awards, presented by the world’s largest petrochemical market information provider. It also became the first recipient of the new Innovation with Best Benefit to Environment or Sustainability Award.