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Published on Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Planet Textiles to tackle water challenges

Written by John Mowbray

The issue of water availability, water conservation in wet processing, wastewater discharge, the circular economy and the rise of environmental awareness in India will dominate this year’s Planet Textiles Summit on sustainability on 24th May at the JW Marriot Hotel in Bangalore, India.

Speakers at this year’s event will include the Indian Government’s Textile Commissioner, Dr Kavita Gupta, will make an opening address at this year’s Planet Textiles Summit to be held in Bangalore on 24th May.

Known for her engagement and interest in environmental issues in relation to India’s vast textile industry, Dr Gupta will use her opening address to outline some of the key approaches and new challenges that the Indian Government will help the textile industry to address going forward as it continues a rapid growth trajectory.

The value of the Indian textiles industry, is currently estimated at around US$ 108 billion, but is expected to reach US$ 223 billion by 2021, according to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) – a trust established by the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. The textile industry is the second largest employer in India after agriculture, providing employment to over 45 million people directly and 60 million people indirectly – and has faced many environmental challenges during its growth.

Also speaking, will be Manoj Gulati, Executive Director, India, of the international NGO Water.org, which was co-founded by actor Matt Damon and which has so far positively transformed more than five million lives around the world through access to safe water and sanitation.

In 2015, Spanish apparel retailer Inditex allocated €3.7M to Water.org to help improve access to safe water and sanitation in developing areas. The money provided more than 33,000 microloans which benefitted over 160,000 people in Bangladesh and Cambodia. In January this year, Inditex chairman and CEO, Pablo Isla, met with Water.org founders Matt Damon and Gary White, at Davos in Switzerland to reaffirm the Spanish apparel retail giant’s commitment to the NGO.

Wastewater solutions

One of the key environmental issues for India’s textile sector surrounds wastewater treatment, pollution and remediation, an issue which has also been a massive issue for the global textile sector at large. As an international event taking place in India this year, Planet Textiles will also hold a special breakout session on wastewater in the textile sector featuring Sajid Hussain, Chief Operating Officer of Tamilnadu Water Investment Co. Ltd, a company which was instrumental in the zero liquid discharge (ZLD) initiative in Tirupur – a city at the epicenter of India’s knitted fabric sector.

Sajid will discuss experiences of the ZLD project and possible ways forward including the development of policy framework, and challenges such as how ZLD can mean the generation of hazardous solid wastes, which pose new disposal challenges for the global textile sector.

He will be joined on the panel by Stefan Seidel, Head of Corporate Sustainability at Puma Group who will also flag up the work of the ZDHC’s wastewater discharge initiative and how brands and retailers and the textile industry in general can roll out these guidelines across the whole sector.

Reliance and Ellen McCarthur Foundation confirmed

Delegates at Planet Textiles 2017 will also hear a unique insight from polyester textile giant Reliance Industries – which in addition to its polyester manufacturing arm, also has 3,300 retail outlets across India.

Middle class consumer spending in Asia-Pacific is expected to outstrip the rest of the world in the next decade, which is fuelling phenomenal growth in the Indian retail industry. “This is expected to result in the sector doubling in value from 2015 to 2020,” according to Gunjan Sharma, CMO, Reliance Polyester Sector, which is the world’s largest integrated polyester fibre producer, who will also give delegates an appraisal of how the company is addressing the issues of carbon and water footprints as well as supply chain traceability.

Reliance also manufactures the PET chips that are used to make bottles and recycles the same bottles back into textile fibres, thus closing the loop, which will also be a feature at this year’s event thanks to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.


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