The word is out in the market 'go green to save the world'. Efforts are being made to counter environmental problems like waste-management, global warming, green house effect in the last few decades and there are several 'green' products available in the shops now. Textile sector has also been a witness to several changes in the demands of consumers concerning green products. In order to make the product design optimum, to improve product manufacturability, to resolve the problems occurring in product's remanufacturing, the concept of green production evaluation system is necessary.
The aim of evaluation system is to ensure that the textile and clothing production saves energy, reduces emission and consumption to achieve efficient usage of resources. Green production evaluation plays a contributory role to realise synchronised growth between textile and clothing industry and the ecosystem. The first step is to analyse the production links and after this the evaluation index system is put up. The index system looks thoroughly into six level of textile manufacturing that are use of water and energy, followed by how the waste water, gas and materials are treated, then comes controlling the unsafe or harmful materials to human health, the type of technology being used i.e. how advanced it is, product and design idea, package consumption and working environment of workshops.
The first step in evaluation is consumption of water and energy. The textile sector uses a lot of water, as technical processes including bleaching, boiling, dyeing, printing, finishing, washing of wool, reeling of cocoon, etc. consume gallons of water. In addition to this, textile plant conditioners and the staff working in the plant also require usage of water in large quantities. Water consumption can be calculated by ton per ten thousand.
The chemical fibre, cotton textile and printing and dyeing plants are also major energy consumption industries. In some developing countries like India, per unit energy consumption is 40 percent higher than that of international advanced level. It is to be noted that a major improvement in textile plant management can result in reduction of waste of resources, avoid serious environment pollution and cut high cost. A proper assessment of water and energy consumption can actually lower production cost, save resource and reduce environment press.
The next step is evaluation of the waste water, gas and materials. The waste water coming from textile is full of natural impurities, organic matter of fat and amylum. It has been established that the printing and dyeing waste water contains organic matter of dyes, detergent, amylum, cellulose, ligin and inorganic matter of alkali, sulfide and various salts. The waste gas includes sulfur dioxide, fumes and dust. This is generated after burning of coal and poses serious threat to the environment. The material wastage involves offal short fibre from chemical and mechanical action, wasted yarn and waste materials during spinning and weaving production, loss of fabric during cutting process. These waste materials are treated by burning or burying which pollute environment seriously. Some textile mills utilise waste pieces of fabric by producing a new fabric from the pieces.
After the waste resources evaluation, the green production evaluation system looks into use of toxic material. The usage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is unavoidable, as the planting of nature fibre requires that fertilizers are scattered in the crops. The final product retains some of the poisonous substances and chemical residue. Dyes and auxiliaries like azo dyes, antiseptics, preservatives and formaldehyde, that are required during dyeing and printing processes are toxic too. These toxic substances can result into dermatitis, skin allergies and respiratory discomfort. The evaluation involves finding the level of toxic substance in raw materials, semi-finished products and the final products. There are several systems being operated to find the level of toxicity, but Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is the most reliable standard system in the world. Under this system, details regarding the PH value, level of formaldehyde, insecticide, colour fastness, banned azo dyes aryl amine and others are checked.
Another important step of evaluation is that of advanced technology involvement. The index of product, design idea and advanced technology involves three second level indexes to evaluate the green level of production technology, new products and design idea. With research carried on in recent years, novel technologies have been introduced to encourage green production, green fibres and environmentally friendly dyes and auxiliaries and technology is also being used to improve green level of textile. With advanced technology recycling old fabric or materials to create a new product or keeping a check on raw material to ensure only organic products are being used, are possible.
After this, when the final product is ready, it has to be packed. As per recent statistics, with an annual output of 900 million shirts, the paper consumption of the packing box will amount to 180,000 tons, which means that as many as 1,260,000 trees are axed down. In this case, the evaluation system analyses if the textiles are using degradable packing materials. This particular index has two sub-indexes that require evaluation of package pollution degree i.e. if the packing materials protect environment and also resource consumption.
The evaluation system also analyses the working environment of the workshop. It should be such that there is minimum noise pollution resulting from the machines. The said pollution in the textile production process can reach upto threatening decibels ranging from 90-106 db. Use of shuttle looms is common in textile industries all over the world and the use of shuttle loom is culpable for the noise pollution. The maximum allowable value to ear is 85 db. Exposure to excessive noise can result into tinnitus, headache, insomnia etc.
Green design of textile and clothing is a new ethic being followed by the textiles. The product evaluation system is necessary to ensure that the textile sector realizes how to improve the production process in view of protecting the planet. The evaluation ensures that the companies understand the real eco-cost of products and when this happens the majority of environmental problems are solved at the root.