Carbon Footprint in Textile Processing

Written by: Ashok Athalye

"Global warming" and "carbon footprint" are a buzz word now. Its importance and the consequential long term devastating effects of "Climate Change" on the environment, habitat and even the existence of our mother Earth are widely discussed. This warming of atmospheric temperature is attributed to the emission of Green House Gases (GHG)Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide and Fluorocarbons are the major contributors.


The recent years have witnessed exponential increase in the emission of Green House Gases (GHG) raising the atmospheric temperature. It is reported that there is about 6 % rise only in the year 2010 (releasing about 500 mn MT) majority of which is attributed to the top three pollutants of the world - China, the USA and India.


The Green House Gas emission is caused by the production and consumption of fuels, manufactured goods, materials, wood, roads, and services. For simplicity of reporting, it is often expressed in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide, or its equivalent of other GHGs, emitted. Just as walking on the sand leaves a footprint, burning fuel leaves carbon dioxide in the air, which is called a "Carbon Footprint". Thus the carbon footprint basically relates to the amount of carbon released into the air based on the fuel consumption.


The Carbon Footprint is assessed in 2 layers;


1.    Primary footprint - monitors carbon emission directly through energy consumption - burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation, etc.

2.   Secondary footprint- relates to indirect carbon emissions (Life cycle of products and Sustainability).


Thus, the most effective way to decrease a carbon footprint is to either decrease the amount of energy needed for production or to decrease the dependence on carbon emitting fuels.


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The author is associated with Technical Service, Atul Ltd (Colors Division), Atul Gujarat, India.