The role of chemicals in wastewater management

We got Dogru Cagdas, Environmental Sustainability Program Manager, H&M and Karun Tyagi, VP, Business Development and Environmental Sustainability, Proklean Technologies together for an interesting hour-long chat.

Hosted by Rijit Sengupta, CEO, Centre for Responsible Business, this chat unpacked a number of interesting facts, learnings and future steps for a sustainable textile industry.

While our previous chats focused on wastewater as a resource and treatment technologies, this chat – ‘Managing Wastewater in the Textile Sector: Using the Right Chemicals’ – moved up the value chain by focusing on chemicals used to make garments.

Of chemicals and green chemicals

Karun spoke about the gradual but clear shift towards the use of safer chemicals in the industry which would lead to wider availability and usage of greener non-crude based chemicals. He emphasised the need for uniformity in certifications and increasing consumer awareness. Especially on the latter point, he was of the firm belief that consumers need to be treated as part of the value chain. He batted for genuine awareness on transparency and traceability – what goes into our clothes, what comes out as effluents, who made our clothes and so on.

The big brand perspective

H&M’s Cagdas emphasised the need to introduce market linked incentives to encourage real change at the supplier level given the costs involved in end-stage treatment. He spoke about efforts at H&M towards sustainable production and practices and also highlighted key learnings for India (improving the implementation of already existing excellent regulations). While he touched upon several challenges, he was optimistic about the future. Even the current low usage of greener chemicals, he said, was simply indicative of a bigger change in the offing.

Like Karun, he also touched upon the need for transparency. He emphasised the need for proactive actions over reactive ones which serve only short-term interest while ignoring the larger problem. Memorably, he spoke about H&M’s stated goal of not just being a “clean fish in a dirty pond” but rather “being a clean fish in a clean pond”.

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