Office of Waste Reduction Textile wet processing operations are coming under increased scrutiny from environmental regulators because of the complex wastewaters and air emissions they generate. This new regulatory effort comes at a time when textile companies are already faced with the need to reduce costs to respond to increasing competition. Pollution prevention offers an opportunity for textile companies to reduce pollutant releases and save money; at the same time, it helps them become more efficient. This paper discusses some of the opportunities for using pollution prevention to reduce waste and save money. Contrary to conventional waste management which only results in increased cost, pollution prevention can help a company reduce its costs through reduced raw material usage, reduced waste requiring treatment and disposal, reduced water and energy requirements, and improved product quality. Applicable pollution prevention techniques include purchasing and inventory control; water and chemical conservation; improved operation, maintenance, and housekeeping; production process modification; recovery and recycle/reuse; and source separation. The following sections discuss ways to apply some of these pollution prevention techniques to reduce pollutant loadings in wastewater; conserve water and energy; and reduce air emissions, hazardous waste generation, and worker exposure to toxic chemicals. Case studies are presented to demonstrate that these techniques and technologies have been implemented effectively by other companies. The techniques are discussed in a low-tech to hightech order. It,is important to keep in mind that low-tech lowcost approaches are often the most effective for preventing pollution. Purchasins and inventory control Hundreds of different chemicals and raw materials used by dyeing and finishing operations. Consumption of these materials ranges from 5 lbs. per year to several tons per week. Process performance can be affected dramatically by changes in the constituents of these raw materials, particularly when trace contaminants exist in the chemicals or raw materials. Tracking raw material quality and managing each of these raw materials requires significant effort. The effort is rewarded, however, with fewer off-quality products and reworks. Chemical screening and quality control are two ways that have proven effective for reducing waste management headaches and costs.

Chemical screeninq. Many companies have established a committee to review chemicals used and to review new chemicals before they are approved for use to ensure that the chemicals do not contain ingrsdients that may cause water or air pollution problems, increased risk to workers, or increased hazardous waste. Criteria for evaluating chemicals may include:

a a a a a a a

worker safety effects heavy metal content biodegradability aquatic toxicity potential inclusion on list of EPA priority pollutants SARA listed compounds (particularly 33/50 chemicals) hazardous waste characteristics VOC and hazardous air pollutant content cost and performance ozone-depleting chemical content

Increasingly, substitutes are becoming available to replace harmful components with less toxic and less regulated alternatives. Chemical substitution is discussed further in a later section of this paper.’ Ensurinq auality of raw material shiDments. Variation in the chemical and physical properties of raw materials can have a dramatic effect on the quality of the dyeing and finishing processes. The best time to detect changes in the raw materials is prior to use rather than after time, energy, and other resources have been invested in using the material. Simple physical tests (pH, viscosity, density, color, etc.) conducted on raw materials and compared to test results from a standard for the material can reveal changes in the raw material in time for appropriate process adjustment or return of the material to the supplier. Frequently raw fiber and chemicals contain significant undesirable impurities which may cause pollution problems. Tests of raw materials and chemicals for contaminants may help pinpoint a source of wastewater pollutants that the wet processor may not have anticipated. Cotton fibers may contain metals ranging in concentration from 7 5 to 100 mg/kg, and sodium sulfate often contains significant levels of zinc. The extent of trace contaminants in raw materials, especially natural minerals and fibers, is highly dependent on the source of the material. For example, cotton produced in certain southwestern areas of the U.S. has been shown to have elevated levels of arsenic. Inventory manaqement. To minimize the quantity of surplus ch’emicals required to be managed as hazardous waste, it is important to order chemicals in reasonable quantities and use first-in-first-out inventory management principles to ensure that the shelf life of chemicals is not exceeded. It is also important to store ingredients under proper conditions. For instance, bagged ingreaients and fiber drums should not be stored

on a wet dyehouse floor. When materials are spilled accidentally, they should be swept or vacuumed up in a dry form when possible rather than simply being washed down the drain. Water and chemical conservation Water and chemical conservation offers one of the greatest waste reduction and cost reduction opportunities for wet processors. Water conservation. Frequently, mills can reduce water.use by 30 percent or more with no decrease in product quality.* Common sources of unnecessary water waste include:
0 0



hoses and faucets left running, leaking fittings, valves, and pumps, excessive water use in washing and rinsing operations excessive water use in clean-up procedures, and cooling water left running when machinery is not operating

Bekause much of the energy required for wet processing operations is used for heating process water, reducing water consumption and reusing water lowers energy costs substantially. Water reuse. Of all wet processing operations, washing and preparation operations typically consume the greatest amount of water. These operations also offer the greatest opportunity for water conservation. Continuous preparation operations can employ countercurrent washing to allow water to be used several times before it must be discharged. Countercurrent washing is used in many mills for desizing, scouring, mercerizing, bleaching, dyeing, and printhouse soaper ranges.3 Rinsewater can be used as make up for subsequent batch or continuous processes. As an example rinse water in a continuous scouring range can be used to make up the.scouring bath, or in some cases, as make up for desizing. Mercerizing or bleach washwater can be used for either scouring or desizing operations.
As color and chloride limits for wastewater discharges become prevalent, the incentive for reusing dyebaths will increase as both of these dyehouse wastewater components are difficult and expensive to remove. Dyebath reuse may reduce the need for color and chloride removal. Water costs and wastewater management costs will also be reduced with dyebath reuse. Because many of the dyes and chemical specialties are not completely exhausted, the residual chemicals can be accounted for as the baths are zeconstituted, thereby lowering chemical costs. Energy savings should be realized as well because the recycled dyebath generally starts at a higher temperature. Bleachbaths and caustic can be recovered and reused as

Clean-up procedures. It is not unusual to see a dyehouse or drugroom worker turn on a faucet or hose and leave the water running for several minutes while he attends to some other need. Meanhhile large volumes of water are wasted. Automatic shutoff valves and nozzles can help reduce the likelihood of hoses being left running. In-line flow restrictors and flow control valves are also useful for reducing water consumption for clean-up. If scoops and handling utensils are dedicated to individual ingredients, the need to clean each utensil after each use can be eliminated.

A m i t a l S p i n n i n g Corp. i n s t i t u t e d a w a t e r c o n s e r v a t i o n and r e u s e program. N o n c o n t a c t c o o l i n g w a t e r i s r e u s e d f o r dye l i q u o r p r e p a r a t i o n , and s p e n t d y e b a t h s a r e r e u s e d whenever p o s s i b l e . Because the c o o l i n g w a t e r i s r m e r (SOOF) t h a n t a p water, steam requirements f o r h e a t i the d y e b a t h a r e b a t h i s r e d u c e d by ;educed, and t i m e 8 to 10 minutes p e r hs a l l o w s c h e m i c a l s t h a t r e m a i n i n the sed a s w e l l . Chemical costs fo p e r b a t c h lower than f o r n e w b a t c h e s . Water u reduced f r o m 320,000 t o 92,000 g a l l o n s roduc tion h a s o f y a r n p e r day. i n c r e a s e d f r o m 12 E s t i m a t e d co December 1991 for w a t e r s a v i n g s and $ 5 2 1 , 1 0 0 f o r e n e r g y t o t a l l e d $21 savings.

Chemical conservation. Substantial quantities of chemical specialties and dyes are wasted in wet processing mills. Chemicals are either used in excessive amounts, used unnecessarily, or spilled. These wastes cause potential pollution problems and a drain on profits. Dyebath recipes tend to grow over time as new ingredients are added to counteract an undesirable effect caused by other ingredients.

example of an ingredient that is often used unnecessarily or in excessive quantities is defoamer. The most judicious approach is to seek out the cause of the foaming problem and correct it rather than to add something else to counteract the effect. Foaming indicates that either too many other chemicals are being used or that some of the chemicals in use foam excessively.

Often adjusting temperature, increasing batch time, or optimizing pH can eliminate the need for specialty chemicals such as retarders or leveling agents. Optimized physical conditions instead of additional chemical ingredients improves the dyers ability to repeat shades, thereby lowering the re-dye percentage

and reducing dye use. Wastewater contaminants are reduced as well since retarders and levelers are not typically exhausted i n normal dyeing operations. One recent study found that in some cases up to half the total wastewater pollutant loading comes from spillage, clean-up, and other nonprocess sources.6 Measuring, weighing, and handling utensils should be large enough that ingredients do not r u n over or spill out during transport. Chemical substitution As discussed, it is a good idea to review all chemicals used, particularly those used in large quantities, to identify those that may contribute to wastewater problems or other problems. In many situations, alternative chemicals are available f o r chemicals that contribute to particular environmental concerns. Process modification may sometimes be necessary to accommodate substitute chemical. Situations where chemical substitution is often employed are discussed below. Metal containins dyes. Many dyes and pigments, particularly blues and greens, contain metals such as copper and nickel as part of the dye molecule. In many situations these metalcontaining dyes can be replaced with dyes that do not contain metals or that contain lower metal content. An example is substituting metal-free vat dyes for metal-containing direct or fiber reactive dyes for dyeing cellulosic materials. Typically for direct dyes, only 85-95% of the metals exhaust into the fiber; the remainder is left in the dyebath and is dumped. Dyeing conditions should be optimized to maximize exhaustion where metalized dyes are used. Surfactants. Surfactants are contained in nearly every chemical specialty. Surfactants vary in their toxicity to aquatic life depending on their structure. The ultimate toxicity of surfactants is affected by the degree to which they biodegrade during wastewater treatment processes. Relatively toxic surfactants that biodegrade easily are actually less harmful to aquatic life than less toxic surfactants that do not biodegrade well. For example, ethoxylated octyl- or nonylphenol (AP) surfactants are less toxic than linear alcohol ethoxylates (LAE), but they are only 2 5 % degradable, whereas LAEs are nearly 100% degradeable.6 The result is that LAE exhibits far less passthrough toxicity than AP. Therefore, LAE is commonly substituted for AP to help reduce effluent toxicity. Unfortunately, more biodegradable surfactants generally have a higher biological oxygen demand (BOD), so much consideration must go into substitute surfactants to ensure that one problem does not replace a different one. Phosphates. Effluent phosphorus limitations have forced many companies to evaluate strategies reduce phosphorus. A number of

common processing chemicals contain high levels of phosphorus including buffers, builders for scouring, water conditioners, and surfactants. Alternatives which do not contain phosphates exist for Almost every situation where phosphates are used. As was the case with surfactants, many of the non-phosphate alternative chemicals may have a higher BOD or may be more toxic than those they replaced. Material safety data sheets do not always indicate the presence of phosphates since they are not generally considered hazardous materials. It may be necessary to contact chemical suppliers to obtain information about phosphorus content.

Production Process Modification Often, large reductions in water, chemical, and energy usage and pollutant loadings can be made through modifying the preparation and dyeing processes to make them more efficient. Examples of waste reduction through process modification is presented in the following sections. Low liquor ratio dveins eauiDment. The amount of water required for dyeing a pound of fabric, the liquor ratio, differs greatly with the type of dyeing equipment used. Table 1 shows typical liquor ratios for various types of dyeing equipment. Low liquor ratio equipment not only reduces the amount of water used for dyeing, but it also reduces energy required for heating the water and the amount of electrolyte and other chemicals required. Reducing electrolyte usage will become more important in the years to come as effluent chloride limits become common. Many types of low-liquor ratio dyeing equipment have a relatively poor washing efficiency. For this reason, a dyeing machine with a 1O:l liquor ratio will not necessarily use half as much water as a machine with a 20:l ratio.

Table 1:

Liquor ratio of dyeing equipment


Dyeing Machine

Water Consumption gal./lb. of fabric

Typical liquor ratio

Continuous Beck Jet Jig Beam Package Paddle Stock Skein


12 : 1 5:1
1O:l 1O:l



35 20

12 : 1


For low liquor ratio equipment it is important to consider the effects of water conservation on the ultimate concentration of pollutants in the effluent stream. Many municipalities have allowed dischargers to switch their permitted discharge limits to a pounds-per-day basis rather than a concentration basis. Companies with such limits are, therefore, not penalized for conserving water. Process Control. A great deal of water and chemical conservation can be accomplished by more closely controlling water and chemical inputs. Water levels in dyeing equipment should be varied depending upon the size of the load. Reducing the fill level also reduces the quantity of chemicals required to achieve the desired concentration. Pad batch dyeing. Pad batch dyeing eliminates the need for salt and chemical specialties from dyebaths, and it helps reduce energy requirements since it is a cold process. Pad batch is applicable for dyeing cellulosic fibers with fiber reactive dyes. Pad batch dyeing requires only about 2 gallons of water per pound of fabric compared to approximately 20 gallons per pound with an atmospheric beck. It is particularly appropriate for dyeing dark colors such as forest green that require large quantities of el-ectrolyte when dyed with direct dyes. Shade repeatability, reduced labor requirements, and high production speeds are other advantages of the pad batch method.2


Craftsmen Fabrics I n d u s t r i e s modified i t s dyeing machine process c o n t r o l l e r s t o allow the equipment t o be f i l l e d t o varying l e v e l s depending upon load s i z e . Chemical usage was varied accordingly. Because l e s s water needed t o be heated, l e s s energy was required. Depending upon the type o f dyeing machine used t o t a l cost reduction ranged from 1 t o 4 cents per pound of f a b r i c processed. Total annual cost savings are estimated t o be $ 1 7 2 , 0 0 0 . 8

Vacuum or mechanical extraction. If excess solution is extracted from goods prior to rinsing and washing operations, less carryover or drag-out of concentrated dyeing solution into subsequent processes occurs. The result is that the number of rinsing steps repired can often be reduced. One manufacturer was able to reduce the number of wash boxes from eight to three simply by installing vacuum extraction equipment on the wash boxes. Heat Recovery. Tremendous opportunities exist for recovering energy from textile wastewater. Wastewater discharge temperatures often exceed 130°F compared to raw water temperatures of approximately 5 5 O . Many companies have reclaimed this excess heat from wastewater using heat exchangers and using it to preheat incoming water. One company is saving more than $1,000 per day by recovering waste heat.g Summary Pollution prevention offers textile manufacturers an opportunity to reduce water pollutant loadings and VOC and HAP emissions and save money at the same time. Many companies may be able to come into full compliance with all environmental regulations without installing expensive pollution control equipment. Pollution control equipment can only pay for itself through avoided environmental fines and other intangible costs such as improved environmental quality and improved public relations. The case studies presented here show companies which have reduced water pollutants and air emissions with less than one year payback through reduced water, chemical, and energy use. These companies also realized the intangible savings mentioned above. Pollution prevention has been proven by countless companies to be the most cost-effective approach to environmental protection. The North Carolina Pollution Prevention Program is available to help companies identify opportunities for pollution prevention. Companies interested in receiving free non-regulatory technical assistance should call ( 9 1 9 ) 571-4100.



Smith, Brent. "Chemical Screening and Inventory Control." American Dyestuff Reporter. June 1987. pp. 2 4 / 2 6 . Smith, Brent. A Workbook for Pollution Prevention by Source Reduction in Textile Wet Processing. North Carolina Pollution Prevention Program. Raleigh, N.C. 1988. "Water Conservation for Textile Mills." North Carolina Pollution Prevention Program. Raleigh, N.C. "Dyebath and Bleach Bath Reconstitution for Textile Mills." North Carolina Pollution Prevention Program. Raleigh, N.C. 1992 Governor's Awards for Excellence in Waste Manaqement. Presented April 22, 1993. Raleigh, N.C.



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Smith, Brent. Identification and Reduction of Toxic Pollutants in Textile Mill Effluents. North Carolina Pollution Prevention Program. Raleigh, N.C. 1989. Accomplishments of North Carolina Industries: Case Summaries. North Carolina Pollution Prevention Program. Raleigh, N.C. 1987. Bishop, Clifton. Craftsmen Fabrics Industries, Inc. Personal Communication. 1994.



9. Smith, Brent. Identification and Reduction of Pollution Sources in Textile Wet Processinq. North Carolina Pollution Prevention Program. Raleigh, N.C. 1986.

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