Textile companies have started adopting water saving technologies as Bangladesh is one of the highest water consuming countries for washing and dyeing fabrics.
Garment factories use more than 250 litres of water for washing and dyeing one kilogram of fabrics while the global best practice is 70 litres.
Bangladesh's textile mills consume 1,500 billion litres of groundwater a year for washing and dyeing fabrics, according to a report -- Bangladesh-The Netherlands: 50 years of water cooperation. The report was published recently by Partners for Water Programme of the Netherlands in cooperation with the Bangladesh government.
The surface water is also contaminated for inefficient use of water, the report said, adding that international fashion brands are increasingly aware of their social responsibility concerning the sustainability of their supply chain to achieve a cleaner textile production process.
“We were able to save more than 70 percent of water by adopting the water saving technologies,” said Bakhtiar Uddin Ahmed, general manager at Fakir Apparels, a garment maker based in Narayanganj.
Previously, his company used 24.96 crore litres of water for washing and dyeing 1,200 tonnes of fabrics in a month, but the amount of water has now declined to 6.96 crore litres. “We are also saving electricity by adopting similar kind of technologies,” Ahmed said.
The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, now provides water saving technologies to Bangladeshi garment factories under its Partnership for Cleaner Textile (PaCT) programme.
Along with adopting new technologies, IFC suggests factories should use industry friendly machinery and change their water use habits. Mondol Fabrics, a concern of Mondol Group, also adopted the water saving technologies of IFC.
“We have already implemented the first phase of adopting the technologies and the second phase is going on. After the implementation of the first phase, we were able to save 27 percent of water in washing and dyeing fabrics,” said Momin Mondol, managing director of Mondol Group.
Before adopting the water saving technologies, his company used more than 120 litres of water for washing a kilogram of fabrics, but now the quantity declined between 80 litres and 85 litres, Mondol said.
The company washes and dyes 500 tonnes of fabrics a month, Mondol said.
Once the second phase is implemented, water consumption will fall further, he said. The implementation of the first phase took 14 months, he added.
The PaCT of IFC supports textile wet processing factories in adopting cleaner production, said Yasin Ahmed, resource efficiency consultant of the Bangladesh PaCT.
“To date, PaCT has provided advisory services to around 200 textile factories (washing, dyeing and finishing units) on resource efficiency measures,” Ahmed said in an email to The Daily Star.
Before joining the programme, factories saw their average water consumption for processing each kilogram of fabrics at 201 litres, which declined to 147 litres after the implementation, with a 27 percent fall, he said.
“We do not have country-specific data. However, the global industry best practice is 70 litres of water for per kg of fabric,” he said.
The PaCT programme was initiated in 2014 with 95 textile factories; the number rose to 192 in 2016.
The partnership is based on both brand and factory contributions. Once the PaCT partner brands nominate their supply chain members, factories pay a participation fee of $2,000-$6,000 as per the production capacity of the plant, Ahmed said.