Transforming an Indian textile hub

Tirupur is among the biggest textile hubs in Asia. Not long ago, improper environmental practices brought it close to collapse.

Tirupur then underwent a complete transformation. Novozymes has been an active partner in the textile value chain in engineering this change.

More than 7,000 spinning mills, knitting and manufacturing factories, printing and dyeing units and 600,000 employees make
Tirupur the driving force for India’s garment export industry. Located on the banks of the Noyyal River in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, Tirupur ranks among the biggest textile hubs in India. Yet in past years, the waste generated from its washing and processing units posed a threat to the existence of this vital industrial cluster.

Fabric dyeing produced harmful effluents, which found its’ way into the Noyyal. The water was contaminated and it could not be used for purposes such as irrigation. In 2011, a High Court order shut down over 750 dyeing units, and severely affected business for the garment-export sector, which was already struggling with rising cotton prices.

With units shutting down, Tirupur risked losing business to competitors. A magnet for migrant workers from all over India, the city also faced an unemployment crisis as dyeing units were closing. Tirupur needed a turnaround and Novozymes played an important role by partnering with the local textile industry to make that happen.

In recent years, units in Tirupur have opened up to enzymatic technologies and the area has become the first textile cluster in the world to achieve zero liquid discharge by adopting several environment-friendly measures.

Recycling waste water
Zero liquid discharge is a concept where the entire industrial and municipal waste water can be reused after recycling without discharging any effluents into a river or other water bodies.
 
“Our teams have been working  together with the manufacturers and processors in Tirupur and are constantly updating them about the latest technological innovations that make sustainable production a reality,” says Jayant Khera, Textile Industry Manager in Novozymes. These include how to reduce cotton waste, reduce use of harmful chemicals, and save time and cost through processes such as biopolishing, bleach clean-up and bioscouring.

Novozymes
Scourzyme®, for instance, breaks down the pectin in cotton and helps remove waxes, oils and other impurities and prepares textiles for wet-processing. It is a more sustainable alternative to traditional scouring, which involves a number of high-temperature steps and heavy consumption of chemicals. More recent innovations such as DeniLite® Cold offer cold bleaching solutions to  denim users.

“We know that the textile industry face a lot of environmental challenges,” says Krishna Mohan Puvvada, Director of Sales in Novozymes. “It is a big contributor of CO2 emission and consumes a lot of water, which is subject to contamination from the chemicals used during processing. The silver lining here is Novozymes’ sustainable solutions help the industry overcome few of these  challenges. A focus that we will continue to maintain in the years to come”

At a Novozymes organized workshop on ‘Driving growth through bioinnovation’, in Tirupur, Raja Shanmugam, President - Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) – Tirupur Council, urged Novozymes to reach out to established players in India’s textile industry, such as the National Institute of Fashion Technology-Tirupur Exporters Association, to “ensure that all the technologies available with Novozymes are understood by the industry here.”

By Shraddha Billa