Introduction

This chapter describes wastes from textile processing operations and their sources, based on commercial practice, literature, and experiences related to the United States and Europe. Certainly there are different practices in less developed emerging economies.

In order to convert fibers into consumer products, several processes are required in a production sequence, as indicated in Figure 7.1. This chapter reviews environmental impacts of each of the above textile processing steps after fiber formation. In addition, information is presented on processing auxiliary chemicals, as well as some general ideas concerning process improvements to reduce wastes and environmental impact of processing.

There are fundamentally two approaches to environmental protection: waste treatment and waste prevention. Treatment systems are well known and are beyond the scope of this discussion. Some comments on prevention will be presented. These pollution prevention ideas are similar to the more extensive treatment given in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Manual for Best Management Practices for Pollution Prevention in Textile Processing [1].

One of the most difficult aspects of assessing the overall environmental impact of textile processing is the textile industry's extremely fragmented nature. It is easier to assess environmental effects of individual unit processes than to evaluate entire life cycles of pollution associated with products, [2, 3]. Each step — beginning with design, purchasing, and training, and continuing all the way through the unit manufacturing processes, and finally ending with distribution, merchandising, and cut and sew—has upstream and downstream effects.

Plastics and the Environment, Edited by Anthony L. Andrady. ISBN 0-471-09520-6 © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Figure 7.1. Processing steps typically required to convert fibers into end-use textile products.

Examples of global views of waste are given in Figures 7.2 and 7.3 [1]. Participants in the life cycle include dye and chemical suppliers, designers of fabrics, merchandising, maintenance, personnel training, purchasing, unit processing operations (e.g., spinning, weaving/knitting, dyeing/finishing, cut/sew), and regulatory agencies, to name a few.

In some cases, business issues present significant barriers to environmental improvements [4]. Primary disincentives include risk of change, inadequate recognition of benefits due to nonglobal costing procedures, lack of information, varying environmental standards in different locations, and poor communications. To improve environmental performance in the textile supply chain, regulators, suppliers, customers, and manufactures must integrate efforts of vendors, processors, and customers to improve the global life-cycle approach to environmental issues [5].

7.1.1. Contaminants in Fibers

Any additive or contaminant that is part of a fiber is likely to be liberated to the environment during subsequent processing. Therefore, it is worthwhile to examine the nonfiber content of raw textile fibers. These contaminants, even if present in trace concentrations, can contribute significantly due to the massive amount of fibers that are typically used by manufacturers. The environmental aspects of these contaminants are discussed under fabric preparation, where they are typically liberated into the air or wastewater. Contaminants include natural waxes and oils, metals, agricultural residues, added lubricants, tints, unreacted monomer, catalyst residues, colorants, tines, brighteners, delusterants, fiber finishes, and antistatic additives. Ultimately the fibers themselves also become waste when the textile end-use products are discarded.

7.1.2. General Description of Processing Wastes

Textile processing operations produce solid waste, wastewater, and airborne emissions. These are summarized here, and their sources are discussed in the process-by-process review that follows in later sections of this chapter.

Cotton seed o <D

-Fertilizer ■Water

- Energy

- Pesticides

- Defoliants

- Plant growth regulators

- Harvester spindle I Lubricant

Lubricating oils L Detergents

Seed

_cotton

Agriculture r Energy hGas L Electricity

- Packaging

I- Bale wrapping r Reworkable waste from

Agriculture

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