Collaborating for long-term action on waste management

A national multi-stakeholder consultation organized by The ReFashion Hub and Centre for Responsible Business to encourage wastewater reuse and water conservation in the textile industry. The workshop was hosted by Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) in partnership with Alliance For Water Stewardship and Water Management Forum (under Institute of Engineers India).

Shri Upendra Prasad Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Textiles delivered the keynote address and subject matter experts such as Mr. Rijit Sengupta, CEO, CRB, Er. Narendra Singh, President, Institution of Engineers of India, Dr K Ramesh, Senior Manager – Process Engineering/R&D, Tamil Nadu Water Investment Company, Chetan Kumar Sangole, Head, Sustainability Desk, Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, Ankur Khanna (Owner, Khanna Industries), Dinesh Chopra (Member, Indian Chemicals Council and Ex-Director, Honeywell) and Archana Datta, National Coordinator, for India, Switch Asia – RPAC, United Nations Environment Program, discussed various aspects of wastewater reuse, policy interventions and incentives as panelists of the workshop.

During the virtual conference, industry leaders, textile industry bodies, government and development agencies addressed various aspects of wastewater reuse, holistic perspective of wastewater as a resource, policy recommendations, scheme incentives, and built a collaborative approach towards long-term and sustained action on waste management by the textile industry in India.

Key policy action recommendations that were submitted by CRB are:

  • Current and updated data will underpin any intervention that is planned. Need for Water audit programs can be considered just as was the case in energy efficiency and renewable energy
  • There is a need for a holistic approach encompassing reducing water consumption, use of water efficient technologies, water reuse, clear chemicals and water conservation.  Roadmaps can be prepared for different industrial clusters. Emphasis on water stewardship (holistic and collaborative) approach 
  • Consider setting industry benchmarks for water related parameters — based on close collaboration with industries and with consideration to local conditions. Cluster units with similar waste water profiles 
  • Focussed solutions for SMEs – similar norms for recycling, more CETPs dedicated to SME clusters, support for water audits and water measurement, incentives for better performance on water management. 
  • Leverage existing schemes such as CLCSS, ATUFS to promote water efficient technologies. Link more incentives to water use efficiency 
  • Government can facilitate awareness programs and facilitate cross location learnings 
  • Ministry of Textiles can lead development of a sustainable roadmap for the sector in consultation and collaboration with other Ministries. 

Assuring his support to the campaign, Shri Upendra Prasad Singh, Secretary, Minister of Textiles, said, “Wastewater management is critical for survival of the textile industry in India and not a subject of charity. It is the responsibility of all stakeholders including the government, textile bodies and industries to invest in green technologies that conserve water.” Underlining the need for such initiatives he further said “There is enough knowledge on the supply side of water and wastewater management but not on the demand side. Efficient water and wastewater management can help suppliers/buyers engage brands/consumers.” Further, he suggested ‘condition assessment of clusters’ to generate a baseline about need for water and wastewater management in textile and other high water-use clusters. Finally, he opined there is not as much awareness and information about water footprint of industries as there is on carbon/energy footprint and hence there is a need to raise awareness and knowledge about its importance.

  • Experts also urged the industry to adapt sustainable business practices and ensure that they look at wastewater as a resource.
  • It was highlighted that the model used in Haridwar and Sarai, which is a hybrid annuity model-based sewage treatment plant, that has been successful and the textile industry can apply learnings from there for wastewater treatment.
  • There is a need to enable the textile processing industry for process optimization by adopting best clean techniques, incentives for automation and up-gradation of machinery and effective mechanisms to reuse water. Industries should be apprised of clear policies and how it can provide cost benefits.

Mr. Rijit Sengupta, CEO, CRB said, “Centre for Responsible Business has the mandate to promote sustainability, sustainable businesses and also oversee how businesses integrate sustainability in their core operations. In a country like India, when we talk about sustainability there is a need to strike a balance between the three aspects – economic, social and environmental, which involves trade-offs and compromises. In case of water, this implies striking the balance between – water as a key industrial input, societal need for equitable access to water and ensuring conservation of water as a resource. In our quest to find solutions to help strike this balance, CRB advocates for applying the principles of circular economy/resource efficiency in industrial/sectoral strategies to enable water use efficiency. Finally, the process of finding solutions is also critical and needs to be co-designed locally based on multi-stakeholder collaboration.”

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