SAFECONOMY – Reinventing the Textile Circular Economy

Background Information

The textile industry is a significant contributor to both water and air pollution. The release of untreated wastewater carries a staggering 20,000 different chemicals into the environment, having a significant impact on human and environmental health. The University of Northumbria, along with its consortium partners, proposes to address this challenge through piloting an innovative technology for treating textile wastewater in Pakistan, a textiles manufacturing hotspot.

Molecular Distortion Technology involves using electrodes to apply an electric potential to the wastewater, thereby producing reactive species that oxidise and break down organic compounds in the water. This process can be used to treat wastewater in various industries, particularly the textiles sector. A TLR (Technology Readiness Level) 5-6 prototype tested at two textiles factories in Pakistan showed an excellent removal efficiency (up to 98%) of all significant pollutants at 40% lower capital outlay, 50-60% lower energy cost, and 90% water reuse, in addition to related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions saving. Moreover, by integrating solar evacuated tube collectors, the technology facilitates water reheating up to 80-90°C, thus closing the loop within the circular economy of textiles and saving substantial heating energy and related emissions. The process also meets most international standards, such as USEPA, ISO, and EU standards, and excellently meets (satisfied over 98%) the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) standard.

The project’s main objective is to advance the innovation (prototype) to a large-scale pilot and to conduct testing in an authentic environment at two textile suppliers in Pakistan. The modular and mobile wastewater treatment system will be fabricated locally in Pakistan to reduce costs. The project team will encourage uptake by local suppliers through financial models to build an attractive business case, and will work closely with government stakeholders to ensure the innovation aligns with incentive programmes under ZDHC ambitions and targets.

The project aims to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Commercial pilot development and testing: A commercial pilot at TRL 8 will be tested to demonstrate water circular economy to ensure compliance with standards for international export.
  2. Training and capacity building: Females and youth will be trained on water treatment pilot to empower them in this sector. This will improve their employability in the textile sector.
  3. Inclusive Society: This project will bring together community, governments bodies and organizations to address social and economic disparities.  The active collaboration and involvement of all stakeholders will be ensured through the project.
  4. Performance and impact evaluation: The project team will measure (i) GHG reduction, (ii) water extraction savings with water reuse solutions implementation, (iii) impact on soil with and without hazardous chemicals wastewater discharge, (iv)  impact on community health by implementing proposed solution as compared to direct discharge of hazardous chemicals wastewater and (v) energy reduction across water cycle as compared to ground water extraction, pumping and utilisation.


The project commenced in April 2024 and is currently in its inception phase.

Connect with SAFECONOMY – Reinventing the Textile Circular Economy



April 2024 – March 2026



Countries of Implementation

Consortium Partners

Showcase Resources

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