Reducing water use is economically beneficial.
Using less water lowers your water bill and can reduce the amount of chemicals required. Less water means a lower application of chemicals is needed to achieve the same outcome. Instead of chemicals being diluted and discharged in wastewater, they can be recovered for reuse.
The key area of water use are scouring dyeing, bleaching, and finishing. Other water uses include toilets, air conditioning, cooling towers, equipment and site cleaning. The following diagrams show that water use varies between different textile operations. It may be necessary to conduct a water audit or water balance, to help you identify key opportunities for saving water.
The Australian textile, clothing, footwear and leather industry has an annual turnover of $9.3 million and employs about 65,000 people. The industry uses about 50 Gigalitres of water per year, or 7% of the total water used in the manufacturing sector (Australian Water Account, 2004).
The industry also uses significant amounts of chemicals, most of which are applied to the fabric using water as a medium. These include dyes and bleaches, detergents, acids, salts, softeners and fire retardants. The use of these chemicals is a significant issue concerning water use - wastewater from textile plants can be environmentally damaging if not treated appropriately and chemicals within wastewater make reuse schemes more difficult.
The benefits of saving water
- Reduced water bills by more efficient water use and wastewater disposal
- Reduced chemical applications and recovering chemicals for reuse
- Reduced pumping needs which will reduced annual energy costs
- Decreased infrastructure requirements such as maintenance and upgrades of equipment
- Reduced environmental risks associated with wastewater, by making wastewater treatment more cost effective
- Improved business image and marketability of your product
- Preparation of your company for future water restriction and increased water prices.
Ways to save water
Simple solutions can provide significant water savings in the textiles industry. There are many ways to save water that do not cost much money. Simple solutions involve:
- Identifying and fixing wastage and leaks;
- Investigating rates of flow and volumes of water used. Often too much water is applied, wasting both water and chemicals;
- Installing sensors and cut-off controls for pumps where possible;
- Installing counter-current rinse systems, which involve cleaning materials in a series of tanks with progressively cleaner water;
- Reusing water in cleaning or cooling operations such as in floor washing, container cleaning, and counter-current rinse systems;
- Using dry-cleanup methods where possible;
- Looking into the possibility of water treatment systems to recover lost raw materials and treat water for additional reuse; and
- Educating staff around the site to use water more wisely.
Discover ways to save water in more areas of the business sector:
Non-Residential Laundries use large volumes of water with potential for significant water and cost savings.
The hospitality sector demonstrates that saving water not only saves money, but also provides an important marketing edge in a very competitive industry.