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What are your five-fold solutions to overcome these challenges?
Since the global demand is not likely to get stronger in the near future, policymakers in India will have to adopt certain policy measures to counter the challenges faced by the chemical industries of India.
1. Chemical industries will have to manufacture to improve long-term export competitiveness, which will help exporters gain market share. Otherwise, with economic recovery leading to higher imports, trade deficit could widen.
2. In the past, product innovations have helped in developing products with multi-billion dollar sales. Therefore, innovation is important for the further growth of the textile chemicals industry. Innovation and performance is a crucial determinant of competitiveness and national progress. Moreover, innovation is important to help address global challenges. Domestic companies have built significant assets and have the opportunity to leverage them. They will need to strengthen them further to withstand global competition.
3. Gujarat has to focus more on research and development (R&D) activities as well as technological upgrading of facilities. The need of the hour is to improve productivity and not scale up production. Costs are rising, and it is difficult to pass the burden on to consumers, since the demand side is already weak. To surpass this situation, especially small and medium enterprises need to spend more on R&D activity which will make production more economical and cost-effective and address the challenge of pollution concerns. Thus chemical industries can be made globally competitive.
4. Focused growth and planning of the chemicals sector will enhance our global competitiveness further, increase domestic value-addition, provide technological depth and promote sustained economic growth. In order to realise the growth envisaged above and leverage the opportunity effectively, the textile chemicals industry will also require significant investments in capacity creation, backward integration, technology development, alternative application of the chemicals manufactured, creation of newer markets, access to feedstock, a larger pool of skilled human resources, etc.
5. The textile chemicals industry is also one of the major consumers of water and energy. Around 60 per cent of the energy consumed by the textiles industry is for wet processing. In terms of water consumption, the dyeing process requires a product-to-water ratio of 1:200 in terms of weight. Water and energy consumption can be reduced by novel energy conserving processes such as beck dyeing modification, foam process, dye bath reuse, mach nozzle fabric drying, close cycle textile dyeing, ink and film application, etc.
What are the sustainability initiatives followed at the textile chemicals unit of India, including yours?
The textile chemicals sector has immense potential for growth, driven by the growing end-user industry.
With increase in investments in the textile sector, higher consumption and growing exports, the textiles sector is poised for considerable growth. Growing awareness about the superior functionality of technical textiles will encourage higher consumption of these products. Also, the National Textiles Policy has benefited the textiles sector. Textile chemicals have a symbiotic relationship with the textiles industry. Hence, growth in the textiles market coupled with growing textile trade is expected to positively influence the textile chemicals market in India.
For production of the final product, textiles have to go through numerous chemicals and water-intensive processes. In addition, more than a hundred chemicals are used during textile processing and manufacturing, which are broadly classified into colourants and auxiliaries.
Healthy growth in the textiles market is expected to positively influence the textile chemicals market, as these chemicals are derived products and essential for the manufacturing and processing of textiles. The renewed thrust on exports to western countries is expected to positively drive the market for textile chemicals. In addition, increasing investments by the industry players on eco-friendly chemicals and nanotechnology will also contribute to the market growth.
But, global slowdown has an impact on the textile chemicals industry, as exports contribute substantially to the segment. Any further slowdown in global growth impacting the end-user industry growth will have an adverse impact on the overall growth of this sector.
Textile chemicals are hazardous to the environment. As a result, manufacturers of textile chemicals are investing heavily in R&D and are opting for green solutions in order to produce eco-friendly chemicals. In my industry, I am widening the use of bio-auxiliaries and other environment-friendly materials to reduce pollution. Also, I have invested heavily on pollution control equipments to meet the norms.
How can the textile chemicals industry be made more sustainable?
The need for high performance textile chemicals has been to a great extent crystallised. There is also a noticeable trend in the world market with regard to colour solutions’ approach to counter commoditisation with the advent of technological innovations. Innovations on plant-based colourants are at advanced stages too and can become a potential game-changer.
Adopting various policies under the Make in India initiative can help in addressing the challenges such as availability of feedstock, value chain presence, good logistics and sound infrastructure coupled with ease of doing business, access to advanced technology, R&D, etc and result in significant increases in operating levels and capacity additions.
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