China – Report ties top clothing retailers to severe water pollution

Posted in: Drinking Water News, Ground Water News, Water Contamination
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Article courtesy of Cui Zheng | April 11, 2012 | Caixin Online | Shared as educational material only

Nearly 50 major clothing retailers were linked to supply chains that dump toxic waste into China’s dwindling water resources, a new study by five environmental organizations finds.

(Beijing) – Arguably the epicenter of the world’s textile industry, China is now grappling with the effects of disastrous wastewater management. Now a recent study by a group of five environmental organizations says the willful avoidance of major clothing retailers continues to persist, adding to the many hurdles of pollution control in the country.

Companies including Marks & Spencer, Esprit, Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani and Carrefour were cited as lacking a policy on downstream pollution management.

The report released April 9 by five NGOs, including Friends of Nature and the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, sought to identify the pollution policies of 48 clothing retailers. Citing egregious environmental violations spreading across Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shandong, Guangdong and Fujian provinces by roughly 6,000 suppliers, the report states that some of the world’s largest clothing companies ignore the wastewater policies of suppliers.

The water-intensive production process of clothing makes the textiles industry the third largest emitter of untreated wastewater at 2.45 billion tons per year among 39 industries, according to the report. The same report states textile dye wastewater accounted for 80 percent of water pollution while effluent from fiber treatment accounted for 12 percent.

In 2008, a textile company in Shantou, Guangdong Province, emitted wastewater without treatment and was fined 100,000 yuan.

However, the report did not limit it’s scrutiny to clothing retailers. The president of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Ma Jun, said the largest barrier in wastewater management continues to be poor regulatory enforcement. The largest wastewater lawsuit occurred just last year, when three companies in Foshan, Guangdong Province, received a 5 million yuan fine for dumping toxic wastewater into waterways.

“With the nominal cost of water pollution still so low, companies don’t have any incentive to upgrade manufacturing technology,” Ma said.

[toggle title=”Toxic waste chart” height=”auto”] Click on image to enlarge

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