Improved training for sustainable chemical management in the textile sector

Pile of cloth fabrics at a local market in Bangladesh.

Both the government and the textile/clothing industry in Bangladesh have identified compliance with social and environmental standards as a prerequisite for sustainable economic growth and competitiveness of the sector in the world market. Wet processes in the textile value chain such as bleaching, dyeing, packaging or printing require the use of large quantities of water and chemicals. The chemicals, many of which contain hazardous substances, are often discharged into surface waters without adequate treatment. In addition, their handling poses significant health and environmental risks. Many textile companies do not have the necessary knowledge about the safe handling of hazardous chemicals or how to optimize their processes to enable sustainable chemical management. This is partly due to there being no adequate training or consulting services available to guide textile manufacturers and companies in implementing safer and more sustainable chemical use practices.

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the companies Rewe and Tchibo as well as local partners are implementing a joint initiative aimed, among other things, at developing local capacities in Bangladesh to embed issues such as sustainable chemicals management more firmly into the textile sector. The initiative is also working with local universities to improve academic training on appropriate management of chemicals and to increase access to such training for professionals and consultants in the textile industry.

To strengthen the role of academic institutions in Bangladesh as part of these efforts, adelphi’s experts supported the Bangladesh University of Textile (BUTEX) in developing and implementing an intensive training programme for 30 faculty members on sustainable chemicals management issues.  With this, BUTEX intends to begin training and further education programmes on chemicals management for students and specialists at the university. Useful elements of the GIZ Chemical Management Toolkit and the concepts of Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC), DETOX and other approaches will be integrated into the curricula for students and training courses for professionals in textiles.