A holistic approach is the best means to tackle the issue of using hazardous chemicals and treating effluent in textile dyeing and finishing, according to a Dutch NGO.

Solidaridad said a wider scope on environmental performance could lead to energy savings, quality improvement, waste reduction and water savings, as well as less chemical discharge.

Working with leading brands and retailers, the group has attempted to address environmental issues in wet processing through pilot projects in Bangladesh and China, and is now rolling out the concept.

It said the holistic approach allowed the balancing of investments – such as waste water treatment – with the financial savings brought about by saving on resources.

Solidaridad added that projects were set up in geographic clusters, with 10-15 factories – supplying brands including H&M and Primark – working on the improvement measures.

“The results are very tangible and motivating all stakeholders to continue to develop further improvements,” Solidaridad said.

“At the same time, we work on local capacity building (such as institutes and consultants) and engage with government agencies, to ensure embedding and scaling up of the initiated processes.”

Solidaridad’s partners in the projects include a range of brands and retailers, as well as the International Finance Corporation and the Royal Netherlands Embassy for the work in Bangladesh; and Zhejiang University in China alongside ASN Bank.