Energy and environment: Environmental protection

Textile manufacture requires the use of often very large quantities of water in numerous production processes. The main areas of application are finishing, which includes dyeing, starching, mercerising, etc., as well as wet cleaning processes such as the washing of textiles (to remove chemical residue) and the cleaning of installations (e.g. chemical baths) for batch changes. For the textiles and clothing industry, the prudent use of water and the ecological disposal of waste water are therefore major concerns.

 

Chemicals play a significant role in the field of textile finishing, i.e. the addition of specific substances to give them properties such as “dirt-repellent”, “non-iron”, “antimicrobial”, etc. Throughout Europe, around 15,000 chemical substances are available for finishing textiles for a broad variety of applications. As in many other areas, with respect to legislation governing the use of chemicals, Switzerland primarily refers to the regulations in place in the EU – our most important market. Consequently, Swiss Textiles is keeping a close eye on developments relating to REACH (Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). Here the main focus is on those substances that are of the greatest concern, which in the initial stage are being included in a provisional list and will subsequently be listed in Annex XIV to the REACH Regulation. For these substances, the industry will have to find suitable alternatives as soon as possible so that the quality of textile products can be maintained.