Optimizing a textile manufacturing facility as demonstration site to reuse water and enhance wastewater management

Background Information

Excessive water consumption and wastewater pollution are key environmental challenges that face the textile industry, resulting in negative impacts to both people and nature. Bangladesh is a textile manufacturing hotspot, and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has announced several key 2030 sustainability goals. Its goals include reducing the industry’s blue water footprint – water that has been sourced from surface or groundwater resources and is either evaporated, incorporated into a product or taken from one body of water and returned to another, or returned at a different time – by 50% and achieving 100% compliance with the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals wastewater guidelines. To contribute towards these sustainability goals, and their own targets, brands will need to work collaboratively with their supply chains and with innovative solution providers to implement best-in-class technologies and solutions at scale.

This project seeks to address how multi-stakeholder initiatives can best contribute towards achieving the goals set forth by the BGMEA as well as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 – “clean water and sanitation for all” – in the context of textile manufacturing. Specifically, the project aims to determine how circular water consumption can be made within a garment factory’s total resource envelope. The project team is made up of a consortium of brands (Primark and H&M), service providers specialising in innovative technological solutions (Grundfos and Panta Rei), a non-governmental organisation (WaterAid) and the project end-user, a Bangladesh-based textile manufacturer, Fakir Knitwear, which will also act as a demonstration site for the project.

Panta Rei is delivering the environmental component of the project through the installation of innovative wastewater recovery technologies capable of purifying and recovering 1,200 cubic meters of water (1.2 million litres) per day. These technologies include the best available disc filtration, ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis technologies with high efficiency motors and sensors/instruments to reduce the energy intensity of the water recovery process. The recovered water will be recycled back into the Fakir Knitwear factory for their operations, thereby reducing the amount of water that the factory extracts daily and the amount of wastewater generated by an initial 25-30%. The possibility of reducing the chemical consumption at the factory is also under investigation.

This environmental component of the project is being implemented together with energy and social components. Additionally, generated waste streams are being evaluated as well as the potential to minimise and recover these. Together, these will contribute towards bolstering the business case for the wider uptake of the water recovery system by other textile manufacturers in Bangladesh. In terms of the energy component, Grundfos is undertaking an energy audit of existing water and heat pumps at Fakir Knitwear’s factory in parallel with a Primark-funded energy and water efficiency programme which aims to reduce Fakir Knitwear’s dependency on freshwater. Should the water dependency be reduced over the duration of this project, then the percentage of water recovered will be increased above the initial 25-30% thereby contributing towards the circularity of water consumption.

In terms of the social component, WaterAid is leading a workstream centred around safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). This workstream includes establishing a WASH baseline for the Fakir Knitwear factory, following which training and guidance workshops will be held with Fakir Knitwear’s management to improve WASH outcomes, especially in the context of gender equality and social inclusion.

To implement a solution that can be widely adopted across the industry, it is important to the consortium that the wastewater recovery is viewed in the context of holistic factory improvements. Together, the environmental, energy and social outcomes from this project will form a strong business case for the brands to use to encourage wider uptake across their respective supply chains, and for the industry in general.

Updates

The project officially commenced on March 6th, 2024 and, to date, a number of key activities have taken place, such as completing initial feasibility studies for the implementation according to the wastewater characteristics as well as finalisation of the preliminary architectural drawings for the necessary civil works. The preliminary engineering for the filtration, ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis sections have been carried out according to the results from the wastewater analysis. Designs for the tanks and wastewater treatment facilities have been submitted to Fakir Knitwear and excavation and site construction is set to begin before mid-2024. The energy and water audits are set to occur in the second half of 2024.

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Timeframe

March 2024 – June 2025

Status

Active

Countries of Implementation

Consortium Partners

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