Major initiative launched to cut textile pollution in one of Turkey’s most important river basins | WWF

Major initiative launched to cut textile pollution in one of Turkey’s most important river basins

Posted on
04 May 2018
With the Buyuk Menderes river facing increasing water risks, WWF-Turkey and the South Aegean Development Agency (GEKA) have launched an innovative programme to promote investment by local and international textile companies and financial institutions in cleaner production techniques, which will reduce pollution in the critically important river and yield economic benefits.

The initiative – entitled ‘Cleaner Production Methods in the Textile Sector’ – supports textile companies to adopt processes that use less water, chemicals and energy, and reduce solid waste and wastewater. Studies indicate that a EUR12 million investment in cleaner production processes could cut a company’s inputs by up to 20 per cent, saving it up to EUR10 million per year and generating real returns on its investment within 1-3 years.

These approaches will help to reduce the economic and environmental risks posed by worsening pollution in the Buyuk Menderes river basin, which accounts for 50 per cent of Turkey’s textile exports and significant parts of its agricultural production (20% of olives, 13% of cotton and 65% of figs), while also boost the participating firms’ bottom lines.

In addition, Garanti Bank sees these as bankable projects and is ready to provide favourable loans to textile manufacturers that invest in transforming their production processes.

“Investing in cleaner textile production is essential to secure the future prosperity of the Buyuk Menderes river basin and conserve its unique natural wealth – both of which are threatened by increasing pollution,” said Özgür Akdoğan, Deputy General Secretary of GEKA. “Cleaner production processes will help textile companies that rely on large volumes of good quality water from the Buyuk Menderes river to maintain their global competitiveness.”

Highlighting the impotance of the new initiative, the Governor of Denizli spoke at the launch event, which was also attended by high level representatives from the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Science, Industry & Technology, and the Ministry of Environment and Urban Affairs.

Local champions of cleaner textile production also turned out in force, including companies, such as Akürün, Aslıteks, Altınbaşak, Ata Tekstil, Doksan Tekstil, Ekpen Tekstil and Gamateks. The event also attracted  representatives of multinational fashion brands, like Boyner Grup, H&M, and Inditex, which have all emphasised the importance of cleaner production along their global supply chains and were interested to learn more about the approach in Buyuk Menderes.

“This groundbreaking initiative will reduce pollution in the Buyuk Menderes basin, which will benefit not just its textile industry but also other economic sectors and internationally important wetland protected areas,” said Aslı Pasinli, CEO of WWF-Turkey. “By creating a pipeline of bankable projects, we are helping to secure the huge investments that are needed to stimulate economic growth and improve the condition of our cricital freshwater resources in the Buyuk Menderes river basin.”

The Buyuk Menderes basin produces US$3.5 billion of exports each year, while the city of Denzili alone is home to 10 of Turkey’s biggest 500 companies. The basin also incorporates two globally important wetlands, Lake Bafa and Dilek Peninsula National Park.

Under the initiative, WWF and GEKA will conduct Cleaner Production trainings for textile manufacturers as well as feasibility studies that provide specific recommendations for each manufacturer.

Cleaner production processes provide a varitey of potential benefits to textile companies, including reduced production and waste management costs, compliance with environmental legislation and regulations, alignment with the demands of multinationals, and increased brand value.

“This is truly groundbreaking. Together we can transform textile production processes in the Buyuk Menderes basin – creating a model for Turkey and other textile centres worldwide,” said Pasinli.
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