Eco-friendly products extended to textile and apparel products
Prof. Dr. Noor Ahmed Memon, Dadabhoy Institute of Higher
The textile sector is the most important manufacturing sector
and has the longest production chain, with inherent potential
for value addition at each stage of processing, from cotton to
ginning, spinning, fabric, dyeing and finishing, made-ups and
garments. The sector contributes nearly one-fourth of industrial
value-added and provides employment to about 40% of industrial
labor force. Barring seasonal and cyclical fluctuations,
textiles products have maintained an average share of about
60%in national exports.
Today textiles and clothing trade accounts for nearly 6% of
total world exports. Many of the least developed and small
developing countries have built a huge dependency on the sector
which often accounts for more than 90% of industrial exports and
more than 50% of total employment. With increased global
competition, many sectors within the textile industry are
increasing production efficiency.
In recent years the usage of natural dyes and colours for
fabric dyeing has witnessed its revival due to the hazardous
effects of synthetic dyes and chemicals. The natural dyes are
eco-friendly, harmless and non-toxic. In addition, there has
been an increasing focus on the use of renewable sources of
energy in the textile and apparel industry.
These dyes may be absorbed through the skin with prolonged
contact. There is growing concern about going green and
consumers are increasingly inclined to choose products which are
non-toxic and cause no harm to either humans or the environment.
This growing interest in eco-friendly products has been
extended to textile and apparel products, particularly those
products which directly come into contact with the skin for
prolonged periods. Finishing operation entails production of
finished textile fabric from greige goods. Finishing operations
are predominantly wet operations requiring large amounts of
thermal energy for water heating and drying as well as dyes and
Import of dyes and pigments
The dyeing is the process of imparting colours to a textile
material through pigment. Dyes are obtained from flowers, nuts,
berries and other organic sources such as vegetables and plants,
as well as animal and mineral sources. These are known as
natural dyes. The other class of dyes, synthetic dyes, are based
on a particular type of chemical composition.
According to a market research report on Textile Printing,
Asia Pacific represents the world’s largest as well as fastest
growing region in textile printing. The Asia Pacific accounts
for more than half of the world’s textile printing production
with China and India, the two most populous countries in the
In recent years, there has been quite a significant focus on
sustainable and eco-friendly practices, particularly in the
manufacturing sectors. Many chemicals used in the textile
industry cause environmental and health problems. Some of these
problems occur during the production process, with respect to
emissions or occupational health problems. Other problems caused
by these chemicals may also appear due to traces of harmful
chemicals in the final product.
However, worldwide environmental problems associated with
textiles are typically those associated with the water pollution
caused by the discharge of untreated effluent and those because
of the use of toxic chemicals, especially during processing.
These chemicals can harm the consumer if retained in the fabric.
The import of various types of dyes and pigments in Pakistan
decreased from Rs 22.9 billion in 2015-16 to Rs 22.8 billion in
Import of chemicals
With increasing global awareness regarding the issues of
environment and pollution, improved environmental performance
has become a major factor in the dynamics of the world markets,
and successful businesses around the globe are striving to
achieve the goals of responsible environmental behaviour. To
enhance and sustain the textile exports of Pakistan it is
essential to address the associated environmental problems on an
urgent basis. The new regime of international trade under the
World Trade Organization (WTO) demands that the production of
textile products should comply with local environmental
standards. Import of organic and inorganic chemicals in Pakistan
increased from the US$ 2.32 billion in 2013-14 to the US$ 2.54
billion in 2016-17, thus showing an increase of 10%. Imports of
organic and inorganic chemicals in Pakistan can be seen in
1: Import of Chemicals in Pakistan
Value: US $ Million
Source: State Bank of
Pakistan Annual Reports.
Enzymes are widely used in the textile industry owing to
their eco-friendliness and suitability of application on
different substrates under varying application conditions. The
enzymes are now considered to be an integral part of almost
every wet processing step of natural fibres, ranging from fabric
preparation to the garment finishing. Enzymes are part of ‘White
Biotechnology’, which is aimed at practising
environment-friendly applications and using renewable resources.
The global market potential of enzymes for textile
application is estimated to be about US$ 150 million having CAGR
of about 3%. The enzymes market is to exceed US$ 9.5 billion by
2024. The growth rate is envisaged to increase further depending
on the changing fashions in ‘garment finishing’ and the growing
awareness of eco concerns demanding greener processing.
Processing of textiles
The textile processing is one of the value-added,
export-oriented and labour-intensive sectors of Pakistan. The
exact number of factories, having high-speed rotary textile
printing and processing units is not documented in Pakistan.
However, most of the available units working on high-tech
machines are owned by big industrial and commercial groups.
The current trend is for the establishment of air-jet looms
units, open-width processing units and printing of fabrics with
'rotary' screen printing machines, the further investment made
for the import of latest digital printing machines and machinery
for bleaching, dyeing, printing, and finishing.
According to the estimates, textile finishing industry has
almost 731 units; the majority is independent and complementary
to the weaving industry. About 650 independent processing units
are working in Faisalabad, Gujranwala, and Karachi, in which
about 50 integrated units have complete finishing facilities.
Exports of textile finished products
The export of finished textiles products has been expanding
since 2000. Worldwide governments and businesses respond to
consumer preferences for ecologically friendly production and
consumption and therefore, set and impose environmental
standards. Thus, even the goods currently being exported are
subject to increasing expectations to meet stringent
Pakistan’s exports of textile finished products rose by an
average of 4% to US$ 7.618 billion in 2016-17 from US$ 6.398
billion in 2012-13. Exports of readymade garments grew 6% to US$
2.319 billion from US$ 1.80 billion, and of knitwear raised 3%
to US$ 2.36 billion compared to US$ 2.04 billion in 2012-13.
Since many of the countries that enjoy the GSP status do not
fall in the GSP Plus group, Pakistan in a position to export
more of its products to the EU on low duties. Export figures for
textile finished products from Pakistan are given in Table 2.
2: Export of Finished Textile Products
Bank of Pakistan Annual Reports.
Challenges to overcome
The Pakistani textile industry is facing challenges due to
social and environmental compliance issues with US and European
buyers. The impact of environmental regulations on the textile
sector of Pakistan can be classified according to many
parameters. However, the major area of concern for the textile
processing sector is wastewater. During the past few decades,
the awareness regarding environmental problems has increased
considerably and has become an important issue in the textile
trade due to increasingly stringent environmental and health
legislation. The environmental policy is also becoming
increasingly influenced by market forces.
The textile industry of Pakistan has the inherent advantage
of being the fourth largest producer of cotton in the world with
a huge potential to further increase crop yield. For the success
of any export-led industry, the availability of basic raw
material is a key factor in reducing the cost of doing business.
The textile value chain consists of multiple industrial
subsectors. The value chain is quite long, starting from cotton
picking to the creation of a finished garment of the latest
fashion. The end product of one sub-sector is the raw material
for the other. Each sub-sector in the value change contributes
to value addition and employment generation.
In view of the anticipated competition with rival countries,
efforts are being made to make textile and clothing sector more
dynamic and competitive as per targets set in economic growth
framework strategy. To sustain its position and increase its
share and to move into high value-added products, that is
environmentally friendly and yet sustainable in this highly
competitive global scenario.
- All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA).
- Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
- State Bank of Pakistan-Annual Reports.
- Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.