Firms take eco-friendly route

Firms take eco-friendly route

As the European Union (EU) plans to become the single market for green products, textile companies are being urged to include sustainability in their business-as-usual practices to serve the demand for eco-friendly items.

A woman checks out the ‘smart fabric’ label of a shirt on display at a fair yesterday. The label was certified by the Thailand Textile Institute to reassure consumers about product quality. PORNPROM SARTTARBHAYA

Peeraporn Palapleevalya, director of the Thailand Textile Institute's (THTI) Textile Testing Centre, said manufacturers should focus on lowering their carbon footprint and engage in eco-friendly designs.

"The demand for green products has risen from the young generation due to the increased awareness of the trend. And these people are the ones with the purchasing power," she said.

According to the Customs Department, Thailand exported US$7.22 billion worth of textiles and garments last year. Of the total, $4.27 billion was textiles and the rest apparel.

The largest export market is Asean, followed by the US, EU, Japan and China.

For the first eight months of 2013, exports rose 4.38% from the same period last year to $5.11 billion, of which $3.15 billion was textiles.

Imports, meanwhile, fell 7.28% year-on-year to $3.2 billion, of which $2.73 billion was textiles.

Ms Peeraporn said Thailand is among the leader in terms of sustainability in the Asean textiles industry, with only Indonesia as the main competitor.

"But Indonesia has only recently included this issue [sustainability] in its industry roadmap, and they have a long way to go," she said.

Some 100 business operators are participating in the THTI's sustainability projects, she added.

According to a 2010 global market report by TextileExchange, textile waste occupies nearly 5% of all landfill space in the world, with 1 million tonnes of textiles ending up in landfills every year.

About 20% of industrial fresh water pollution comes from textile treatment and dyeing, while 1 trillion kilowatt hours are consumed by the textile industry every year, accounting for 10% carbon impact globally, said the report.

Thamrongchai Thanawutikul, plant manager of Thailand Carpet Manufacturing Plc, said the company has been slowly changing its production process and sourcing of material for its commercial carpets to be greener.

However, he added that this has increased overall production costs.

"But even if we did not follow sustainable practices, our customers would still buy our product. They like it, they say it's good, but they are not willing to pay more for it," he said.

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