Major retailers in South Africa have committed to increasing locally-made clothing lines in their stores from around 50% to 65% by 2030, but where will the water come from?
Only a few appreciate the cost of water like commercial facilities and industrial manufacturers and many sell consumer products that require water as part of the larger infrastructure assembly. Each step has a direct water footprint and an indirect water footprint.
Local cotton production began in the Western Cape as early as 1690 and is a prominent crop that is now grown in the provinces of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and North West. Although cotton flourishes in warm, humid weather, close to 50% of South Africa’s cotton is planted in very dry areas.
In total, the water footprint of cotton is divided in approximately 42% groundwater, 39% rainwater, 19% grey water. It consumes approximately 30 m3 per ton for bleaching, 140 m3 per ton for dying and 190 m3 per ton for printing. For example, a pair of jeans will require cotton to be grown, ginning and spinning of fiber, weaving, sewing and wet processing of the fabric to ultimately have the finished product – bringing the average water footprint of printed cotton like a pair of jeans weighing 1 kilogram to 11m3 per kilogram.
The cotton-textile industry consumes considerable amounts of water during the manufacturing process, creating high volumes of wastewater that need efficient high-quality treatment. The organic-load of wastewater produced in cotton-textile remains a major environmental issue. Textile and ready-made garment production is one of the most water-intensive industries in the world.
MEB has over a decade of experience in water management, optimization and wastewater improvement from a regulatory and production perspective. We focus our efforts on developing an understanding of the relation between water, production value chains and water footprint to effectively apply our water treatment solutions.
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