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Moving the Environmental Wheel

By: KT Ramakrishnan (ktramakrishnan@wrapcompliance.org)
Jun 29

During my school days, reopening day on the 1st of June used to be known as the “rainy holiday." But that is a distant dream these days. It is known that climate change plays havoc with the weather system, and that industrial production facilities, including garment and textile factories, play a role here. A 2010 paper published by Bangalore University found that nearly every link in the textile supply chain, from raw materials to cut and sew, had some effect on the environment. Should we then say that production facilities need to give serious consideration to environmental compliance? Yes, we do, and WRAP Principle 10 mandates that certified facilities adopt environmentally-friendly practices. Recently concluded Environmental Day celebrations reminded me that manufacturing facilities have yet to mainstream environmental management and that they have not fully realized the economic benefits this can provide.

This article is a pointer, reminding production facilities that environmental compliance makes good business sense and helps them in creating a competitive edge. WRAP's 12 Principles are implemented based on a management system approach. In order to institutionalize environmental management systems, it helps to think of a simple and fundamental approach known as the "5Rs": Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink, and Rationalize. For illustrations, see the below example which will demonstrate the revenue saving potential, which often goes unnoticed. In a garment manufacturing company, look at the main input resources, including raw materials, natural resources such as water and power, people, machinery, finance, and information. Now apply the "5R" principle as follows:

Reduce: Waste, use of power, water, etc. During the audit, it is common to see water leakages in toilet facilities, wash basins etc. Same is the case with running machines and electrical fittings when not in use. Many times, we see poor insulation of steam pipes as well. Facilities are required to systematically review maintenance schedules and take timely corrective actions. For example, if there is a poor insulation on a steam pipe, it needs to be re-insulated forthwith to avoid heat loss and injury to people.

Reuse: Identify all items that can be reused. For example, packaging materials and pellets, to name a few. These can be reused for repacking of finished goods. Sometimes, wooden packing materials could be used as fuel in boilers as well. Waste heat from boiler exhaust pipes can also be re-circulated to heat feed water, all common examples of reuse.

Recycle: Wastewater recycling for gardening is a well known practice. Rainwater harvesting and groundwater charging are all good practices that can be adopted. Harvested water can be used for several purposes in a production factory such as usage in the toilets, boilers, and effluent treatment plants (ETPs).

Rethink & Rationalize: Technological advancement may be utilized in all areas of operation by rethinking existing arrangements. Rationalize, strategize, and stream line the activities for optional functioning. Some examples include changing over to environment and energy friendly air conditioning systems, using energy efficient lighting systems, and re-examinig the fittings and wiring for electrical leakages.

Thus, environmental compliance is not only a right thing to do morally, it is also a smart way to create revenue by eliminating wasteful expenses. Operational changes and initiatives enhance competitiveness. WRAP recognizes the importance of environmental management and therefore encourages production facilities to adopt practices that would enhance their social responsibility in reducing their carbon footprint. Our objective is to encourage people and production facilities to move the environmental wheel forward, increasing compliance, reducing costs, and growing revenue.

Good, better, best, never let it rest, till your good is better and your better is best.

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