Industrial Wastewater Management
The textile and garment industry is a major driver of the Bangladesh economy, accounting for nearly 80% of export earnings and contributing more than 12% of national GDP. ‘Made-in-Bangladesh’ is an internationally recognized brand of quality and has boosted the country’s image worldwide. Annual turnover of nearly 23 billion USD is predicted to more than double to 50 billion USD by 2021.
The textile firms contribute to wealth and prosperity of the country but in the process, they are destroying the surrounding environment on which farmers and others depend for their livelihoods. According to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the water of the rivers surrounding Dhaka city where wastewater is discharged without adequate treatment is highly polluted. The rivers have been characterized as ecologically critical areas. Bangladesh is among the countries with the lowest level of wastewater treatment in the Asia Pacific region. The country treats only 17% of its wastewater, says the United Nations World Water Development Report 2017. The textile processing industries in Bangladesh produce wastewater which is one of the main sources of pollution of the rivers, canals and wetlands in and around Dhaka as well as many other places in the country. Effluents from these industries contain suspended solids, large amount of dissolved solids, un-reacted dyestuff and other chemicals that are used in different stages of dyeing, fixing, washing and other processing. A few textile factories in Bangladesh maintain wastewater treatment processes at the necessary level to meet discharge standards.
Under Bangladeshi law, textile and garment industry falls under ‘Red industries’. These pose the highest environmental threats. Environmental law mandates that all Red category wastewater producing industries, including textile dyeing plants, must use Effluent Treatment Plants (ETP) to treat wastewater before discharge. The BAWIN and TI-B report estimates that the proportion of factories with ETPs between 40 and 80%. It has been reported that the volume of wastewater generated by factories is within the capacity of the ETPs used by the textile industry. However, it is widely acknowledged that many of the installed plants are not designed according to standards or are not operated in an appropriate and responsible manner. Main factors causing this poor performance of ETPs are a lack of knowledge and technical capability, a lack of monitoring, and poor record keeping. Owners are also often reluctant to run ETPs effectively full-time to minimize the costs of the expensive chemicals consumed in the treatment process. There are no accountability mechanisms.
AGROHO is planning to come up with treatment technologies aim at achieving color removal and reduction of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) and pH correction. Treatment processes include physical, chemical and biological methods; and they have merits and limitations. AGROHO is engaged in social advocacy so poor governance in wastewater management is turn off.