Highlighting the Importance of Effluent Treatment

Published 21st November 2018

Effluent describes the wastewater that flows from a treatment plant, sewer or industrial outfall. The treatment of effluent is vital before it is discharged into oceans, rivers and streams to prevent damage to the environment, animals and to human health. It is the responsibility of manufacturers to treat their effluent correctly.


A considerable amount of water is used within the clothing, leather and textile industries, and if left untreated can cause serious environmental problems. The most likely affected areas are developing countries where there are fewer laws in place, or where legislation is not enforced as rigorously. An example of this is in an industrial neighbourhood in Mumbai, India. In August of 2017 dogs were spotted sporting a blue coat of fur. It is suspected that this is the cause of untreated wastewater from one of the local factories. The water is believed to have been dumped into a local water system where the dogs had been swimming, causing them to gain the vibrant blue coats. Whilst the dogs have been reported to be fine and their health not to have been affected by the dye, questions are raised as to why this was even possible in the first place?


Whilst there is no singular industry standard into the discharge of wastewater. The ZDHC Programme has created a new set of standards in wastewater discharge within the textile and footwear industry. ZDHC is a multi-stakeholder group whose ambition is to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals within the production of textiles, footwear and apparel (www.roadmaptozero.com). The ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines aim to provide a universal standard, in an attempt to minimise the detrimental effects that untreated wastewater can have on the environment and to health. Additionally, the guidelines also aim to prevent confusion within these industries by eliminating the inconsistency with regards to best reporting limits, and frequency of sampling and reporting.


Increasingly ZDHC’s aspirational wastewater guidelines are not legislative but create a range of wastewater standards. Following the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines enables compliance well within legislative limitations, as well as taking steps closer to achieving ZDHC’s overall philosophy and industry goals.


ZDHC have published Wastewater Guidelines for the textile industry but currently there are no published guidelines specific to leather. Wastewater guideline limits for leather differ from those used in textiles, and therefore work is currently in progress to address this. Further information to follow.


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Speak to a Chem-MAP expert at Eurofins | BLC on +44 (0) 1604 679 999 or email info@chem-map.com  to start a conversation about effluent treatment

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