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Chinese textile mills can save big by going green: report

(People's Daily Online)    13:19, June 21, 2017

Kurt Kipka, senior project manager at NRDC, introduces major improvements achieved by the 23 Chinese textile mills in 2016 

Over 20 Chinese textile mills, many of which provide fabric for 10 high-volume apparel brands and retailers, achieved more than $8 million in savings annually by implementing eco-friendly efficiency improvements, according to a report by world leading environmental non-profit released on June 20 in Shanghai.

A total of 23 mills in the southeastern China’s greater Suzhou area, a hotspot of global textile manufacturing, participated in a joint effort known as Clean by Design (CBD) in 2016. The program led by New York based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) calls upon multinational apparel retailers and fashion brands to take responsibility for the environmental impacts of their factories abroad.

The participants adopted measures to lift efficiency such as capturing heat and recycling water from the final rinse cycles, insulating steam systems, and reducing leaks in equipment. These improvements have dramatically reduced the pollution generated by these mills, saving 4 million tons of water and more than 30,000 tons of coal (or its energy equivalent) per year.

Many industries are guilty of using large amounts of water, but the problems with clothing production run particularly deep. Not only are vast volumes required for scouring, dyeing, and rinsing, but all that water becomes loaded with dyes and nasty chemicals. The problem is more imminent in China than other countries considering its role in the world’s textile production.

Despite remarkable drops in China’s textile exports in 2016, more than half of fabric in the world was produced in China and the country still gripped its prominent role in major markets. There is no sign that such dominance will come to an end any time soon, according to the latest issue of Textile Outlook International from the business information company Textiles Intelligence.

“Although textile manufacturing is among the largest polluting industries in the world, it doesn’t have to be that way,” said Kurt Kipka, senior project manager at NRDC, “CBD offers the industry low-cost, high-impact solutions to clean up its act while providing reduced costs at the same time.”

With the partnership with International Financial Corporation and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a trade organization representing more than 40 percent of global apparel production, CBD has been successfully introduced to more than 200 textile mills around the world. The latest installment of the program in Suzhou included varying degrees of participation from the multinational brands such as Target, Gap and Disney.

“At Target, we know that our decisions have the potential to impact millions of people around the globe, from the people who create our products to the families they support and the communities where they live,” said Kelly Caruso, President of Target’s Sourcing Services, “We’ve been impressed by the program and are proud of our efforts to reduce the amount of resources we’re using across our supply chain and make our suppliers more competitive.” 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Chen Lidan, Bianji)

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