WWF and SEPA’s joint efforts bring textile and leather industries on path to sustainability

Posted on 02 August 2022

Karachi, 2 August 2022: ‘Smart and innovative solutions to conserve water, energy and other natural resources in textile and leather sectors can help reduce adverse environmental impacts, provide cost-saving opportunities and enhance overall revenue of industries. These solutions should be implemented in the industrial sector at a larger scale across Pakistan’. This was stated by speakers during the media briefing workshop organized by WWF-Pakistan under its 6-year International Labour and Environmental Standards Application in Pakistan’s SMEs (ILES) project, funded by the European Union. The project is implemented in four major cities across Pakistan; which include Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Sialkot; and aims to support the economic integration of Pakistan into the global and regional economy by increasing exports through improved compliance and gaining confidence of international buyers.
Speaking on the occasion, Rashid Ahmed, Manager ILES WWF-Pakistan shared the project’s successes and highlighted that the project contributed towards the reduction of carbon emissions and chemical usage and promoted the efficient use of energy resources. He further said that over 21 textile and leather industries in Pakistan have collectively saved 226.39 million rupees by implementing sustainable environmental management practices introduced by these initiatives. To enforce environmental laws and standards in Pakistan, the project built the capacity of relevant government officials and financial institutes. Textile and leather sectors, despite being the two largest export earning sectors of the country, face several challenges such as compliance issues, availability of the raw material, and international market competition. He lauded the efforts of the government for approving a new textile policy, which envisages to double its export target up to USD 42 billion over the next three years. 
Ashiq Ali Langah, Director Technical, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) said that the agency, in collaboration with WWF-Pakistan, has drafted the Cleaner Production Policy which is the first of its kind in the industrial history of Pakistan. He said that the policy aims at providing technical and professional support to industries to adopt sustainable practices, environmentally sound processes and equipment in line with international standards. He was of the view that Sindh faces several environmental challenges but consolidated efforts are required to tackle them in time. He emphasized on the need to improve the law enforcement mechanism in the province. 
Furqan Ullah, Manager Compliance and Sustainability at one of the leading textile industries shared that the textile industry is facing multiple challenges, including gaps in environmental laws, lack of guidelines on carbon emissions, poor handling of resources and waste disposal. Through the ILES project, many of the issues have been addressed while some still need to be considered.
The textile and leather sectors are key drivers of Pakistan’s economy and represent the bulk of industries which provide employment to a considerable population. However, the industries employ potentially pollution-intensive processes with water discharge and use of chemicals deemed harmful for the environment. The ILES project is striving hard to build the capacity of the public and private partners, providing them with technical support to achieve sustainable industrial growth.
Ashiq Ali Langah, Director Technical, SEPA speaking during the event.
© WWF-Pakistan