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Published on Monday, 30 January 2017

Water is top concern for textile industry executives

Written by John Mowbray

WAKEFIELD – Water is the most serious long term environmental challenge facing the global textile industry – that's the finding of research by Ecotextile News among 50 senior textile industry stakeholders from the likes of H&M, Inditex, Puma, adidas, Benetton, the ZDHC Group, the Sustainable Apparel Coaliton, M&S and the China National Textile and Apparel Council

For our tenth anniversary edition, we interviewed 50 senior executives from the global textile industry and asked them about the environmental and sustainability challenges facing their own organisations as well as the wider textile industry. We talked to people from the full spectrum of industry - from apparel businesses to NGOs, chemical suppliers and industry groups from countries as diverse as the US, China, Germany, the UK, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark - and many more.

Water scarcity comfortably came out as the most mentioned issue. Glenn Bennett, head of global operations with the adidas group, referred to, "the ever growing issue of water scarcity," while Melissa Fifield, senior director, sustainable innovation with US-based Gap Inc said: "We believe water is a human right, and are taking steps to address our impact while also ensuring safe access to clean water for communities touched by our business."

The CEO of Scandinavian fashion brand Lindex, Ingvar Larsson, said that water was, "without a doubt," the gravest environmental threat facing the textile industry. "Water is a human right and it is crucial for our industry. lack of water will have major consequences for the industry and the people who live where we operate."

Meanwhile, Alexander Wessels, CEO of textile chemicals business Archroma, suggested it would be, "an interesting concept to promote free water for populations and costly water for industry."

Likewise, Eric Hopmann, the CEO of Dystar argued that, "the huge amount of water that is required in textile production and the quality of effluents will require continuous improvements. "

Offering a China perspective was John Cheh, vice chairman and CEO of the Esquel Group, a leading global textile manufacturing business. He said: "It has been estimated that in China, close to 20 per cent of the wastewater is generated by the textile industry. We must therefore focus on water conservation, wastewater treatment and recycling."

Interestingly, water use, consumption and pollution related to the textile sector is the key theme of the forthcoming Planet Textiles event which takes place in Bangalore on 24 May 2017. See Planet Textiles 2017 website for more details.

If you want to see the 104-page special edition of Ecotextile News, you can subscribe to the magazine HERE.

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