The textile sector dates back to several centuries in India and contributes a considerable share to its economy. According to IBEF, the Indian textile market is expected to reach more than 209 billion USD by 2029.
Though textile industries elevate the country’s economy, it also adversely affects the environment. Nearly 20 percent of global wastewater is produced by the fashion industry. As per the Indian textile Journal, more than 1 million textile waste is thrown away in India.
Which processes generate wastewater in the textile industry?
- Sizing and de-sizing
Typical sizes of yarns are required to weave a fabric, and various sizing agents are used to size the threads. Furthermore, sizing agents are removed for the dyeing process through de-sizing, which generates wastewater with high biological demand.
Bleaching agents like hypochlorite, peroxide and peracetic acid remove the fabric’s natural color. Generally, these bleaching agents are carried further in wastewater causing trouble.
Mercerization of fabric is done to give shine and stimulate the dye uptake, and it is done by using sodium hydroxide. After treating the material with sodium hydroxide, it is washed, and the sodium hydroxide is carried in the wastewater as a contaminant.
- Dyeing and printing
Chromophore groups or auxochrome groups are used to color the fabric. Moreover, various chemicals are used to enable the sorption of dyes on the fabric. As a result, the extra dyes and chemicals become a prominent contaminant in wastewater.
What type of waste is present in textile wastewater?
- Difficult to treat waste
Such wastes are persistent, resist treatments, or interfere with other wastewater treatment processes. In addition, it includes non-biodegradable organic & inorganic waste, which contains color, phenols, surfactants, phosphates, and toxic molecules.
- Toxic waste
They are a sub-group of difficult-to-treat wastes and include metals, chlorinated solvents, and volatile organic matter.
- Large volume waste
A large volume of waste is often a problem in textile industries, and it results from a continuous dyeing process and consists high amount of salts, acids, and alkalies.
- Highly dispersible waste
Dispersible wastes create a significant problem in textile wastewater treatment, and it is generally produced from print paste, lint, coating foam, cleaning solvents, and other processes.
Such highly contaminated wastewater can be treated using several treatment methods like,
- Physicochemical method
- Chemical method
- Biodegradation process
- Hybrid treatment method (A combination of biological and chemical processes)
Advantages of textile wastewater treatment
- Reduces waste
As the textile sector is a water-intense industry, it generates a vast amount of wastewater containing toxic chemicals and dyes. Such contaminated wastewater is hazardous and adds to the problem of water pollution. On the contrary, wastewater treatment can reduce waste and saves humans & aquatic lives from waterborne diseases.
- Saves money
The central government tightens the waste discharge laws and also enthusiastically promotes wastewater treatment by creating norms like Zero Liquid Discharge for industries. However, if untreated wastewater is released into rivers, lakes, or ponds, authorities charge high fines and imply imprisonment in some cases. Thus, textile wastewater treatment can save companies from penalties and save their time & money.
- Reduce footprint
Environmental footprint has been the biggest issue for textile industries because they use water in high amounts and produce equal or more amounts of wastewater. Moreover, fast fashion – constantly furnishing new styles at low prices – has increased the number of clothes made and discarded, adding to pollution. Therefore, it shows that textile wastewater treatment is necessary to save the environment.
- Saves water
As more industries are using colossal quantities of water for production processes, wastewater treatment can address the water scarcity issue by providing water for reuse.
Importance of reuse of textile wastewater
The reuse of textile wastewater is a promising solution to increase available water and minimize harmful water discharge into natural water bodies. Moreover, it is particularly beneficial in water-stressed countries, where the textile sector contributes a considerable share to their economies.
Many textile megacorporations are focusing on meeting sustainability goals to comply with stringent regulations through the reuse of textile wastewater.
Industrial wastewater treatment will always be a major concern and hold great importance in saving the environment. In addition, when the textile industry occupies a copious share in wastewater production, its treatment should possess equal significance because textile wastewater treatment can save the health of humans and aquatic life.