The textile industry is the world’s oldest branch of consumer goods manufacturing. It covers the entire production chain of transforming natural and chemical fibres (such as cotton, wool, and oil) into end-user goods; including garments, household goods and industrial textiles. Textiles are heavily intertwined with environmental, social and governance issues. In the past, efforts of producers and retailers have primarily focused on improving the social aspects of textiles like establishing fair working conditions and minimum wages, setting social standards, imposing ban on child and forced labour. Over the years, there has been growing concern about the environmental impacts of textiles. According to a study, clothing alone is responsible for 2 to 10 % of the EU’s lifecycle environmental impacts. This results in textiles coming fourth in the ranking of product category which cause the greatest environmental impact, just after food & drinks, transport and housing.
The precise environmental impact of textiles varies significantly depending on the type of fibre the garment is made from. However, generally speaking they include:
· energy use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, nutrients releases (leading to eutrophication) and ecotoxicity from washing (water heating and detergents) and dying of textiles;
· energy use, resource depletion and GHG emissions from processing fossil fuels into synthetic fibres, e.g. polyester or nylon;
· significant water use, toxicity from fertiliser, pesticide and herbicide use, energy use and GHG emissions associated with fertiliser generation and irrigation systems related to production of fibre crops, e.g. cotton;
· water use , toxicity, hazardous waste and effluent associated with the production stage, including pre-treatment chemicals, dyes and finishes.
All actors along the supply chain have a role to play in reducing the environmental footprint of textile products. Although the definition of “sustainable textiles” is still open to debate, “environmentally friendlier” textiles will be defined as textiles which minimise negative life-cycle environmental impacts along the supply chain, including production and consumer behaviour.
As our burden for the generations to come, we as SNT Tekstil are trying to take part on the production of more “environmentally friendlier” fabrics and products. We are committed to use 75% of our weaving production from more sustainable raw materials. We have recently invested on Pigment Digital Printing where there is no water consumption and has the least energy usage per printed m2. Last of all, we are planning to generate our own energy from solar power until the end of 2022. We know that our own efforts will have a tiny effect on the textile productions worldwide, but we believe that this needs to change and we have got to start from somewhere. We still believe there will be more to come and things to improve.