Textile mills that use wet processing: frequently asked questions



On December 4, 2004, Environment and Climate Change Canada published a pollution prevention planning notice that requires wet processing textile mills to prepare and implement pollution prevention plans addressing their use of nonylphenol (NP) and its ethoxylates (NPEs), as well as the toxicity of their effluents (referred to as textile mill effluents or TMEs).

Pollution prevention planning notices

What is a pollution prevention planning notice?

Pollution prevention planning notices are published by the Minister of the Environment in Part I of the Canada Gazette to help reduce adverse environmental and health risks associated with toxic substances. They are legal documents that require certain persons, including companies, to prepare and implement pollution prevention plans.

Who is subject to this pollution prevention planning notice?

Persons subject to this pollution prevention planning notice include all wet processing textile mills that discharge their effluents to a municipal wastewater treatment system and that have had an average daily effluent discharge, calculated on a yearly basis, greater than 30 m3/day at least once between 1999 and 2003.

What will textile mills subject to the pollution prevention planning notice be required to do?

Textile mills that are subject must:

  • prepare a pollution prevention plan and begin implementation no later than January 31, 2006
  • consider all factors identified in the pollution prevention planning notice, including the reduction targets
  • fully implement their pollution prevention plan by January 31, 2010
  • keep a copy of their pollution prevention plan at the site for which the plan was prepared
  • provide a copy of their pollution prevention plan to Environment and Climate Change Canada upon request
  • submit the mandatory reporting forms that are part of the notice

Compliance with the legal requirements of the pollution prevention planning notice is mandatory. Non-compliance with any legal requirement of the notice is a criminal offence punishable under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999).

What are the reduction targets outlined in the pollution prevention planning notice?

The reduction targets are to:

  • reduce effluent toxicity to the level specified in the notice by 2009
  • reduce use of NP and NPEs by 97% from 1998 levels by 2009

Environment and Climate Change Canada will use the mandatory reporting forms submitted by the textile mills during implementation of their pollution prevention plans to assess progress towards achieving the reduction targets and determine the need for additional action, which may include regulations.

Textile mills effluents, nonylphenol and nonylphenol ethoxylates

What are NP, NPEs, and TMEs?

NP and NPEs are commonly used surfactants that have been in commerce for over 40 years in products such as detergents, emulsifiers, wetting agents, and dispersing agents. TMEs are wastewater discharges from textile mills that use wet processes, including scouring, neutralizing, desizing, mercerizing, carbonizing, fulling, bleaching, dyeing, and printing.

What are the effects of NP, NPEs and TMEs on the environment?

Assessments of these substances found that untreated or inadequately treated NP, NPEs, and TMEs are harmful to the environment, especially aquatic organisms. Furthermore, degradation products of NPEs are often more harmful and more persistent than the parent compounds.

Pollution prevention

What is meant by pollution prevention?

Pollution prevention seeks to eliminate the root causes of pollution, rather than treating the symptoms. It is defined as “the use of processes, practices, materials, products, substances or energy that avoid or minimize the creation of pollutants and waste, and reduce the overall risk to the environment or human health” (CEPA 1999). Pollution prevention can be systematically applied in a business by examining operations and developing a pollution prevention plan to eliminate or reduce pollution at the source.

How is pollution prevention planning likely to affect my business?

Pollution prevention planning typically reduces liabilities while increasing business productivity and competitiveness. How is this possible? Pollution is often raw material that is not being transformed into a marketable product as a result of process inefficiencies. Pollution prevention encourages changes that can lower production costs, increase efficiency, avoid accidental and operational releases, reduce treatment and disposal costs, and better protect the environment. Many textile mills have successfully carried out pollution prevention activities that resulted in lowering operating costs.

What are some examples of pollution prevention opportunities at wet processing textile mills?

A technical resource guide was developed to assist textile mills in identifying pollution prevention opportunities (information on how to obtain a copy of the guide is provided below). Pollution prevention opportunities at wet processing textile mills include modifying current operations, such as replacing toxic chemicals with less toxic ones; and optimizing processes, such as using automated chemical dosing systems or low liquor ratio dyeing machines to reduce chemical use. The product design stage also offers many pollution prevention opportunities.

More information

Whom do I contact for further information?

For further information on pollution prevention planning, to see a model pollution prevention plan, to use the on-line tutorial, or to obtain a copy of the Pollution prevention planning notice described in this fact sheet, please contact:

Regulatory Innovation and Management Systems
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 St-Joseph Boulevard
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3

Email: planp2-p2plan@ec.gc ca

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