China’s polluting textile industry is being called out by its own. Nearly 50 major apparel brands, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, H&M, Nike, Uniqlo, Victoria’s Secret, and Zara, have links with factories that regularly flout the country’s environmental laws, according to Cleaning Up the Fashion Industry, a joint report filed by five grassroots organizations.“China has put in place environmental regulations to prevent water pollution from the textile and other industries, but resources for effective enforcement are lacking and protection of local interests means implementation is difficult,”write Envirofriends, the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, Green Beagle, Nanjing Greenstone, and Friends of Nature.“This means there is insufficient incentives for textile factories to abide by government laws and regulations.”
Li Li, the director of one of the five organizations called EnviroFriends, is at the forefront of the report, hoping that its findings will be the catalyst for the Chinese government to take action against the companies involved. Some of the companies named were Levi Strauss, Burberry, Polo Ralph Lauren, Guess and Zara, in addition to Chinese companies 361 Degrees, Anta and Youngor. Although these companies are receiving warnings from the government, they are still operating- and polluting.
This is of extreme concern, especially since China processes and produces 52% of the world’s fibers and fashion, totaling 41.3 metric tons in 2010, which yielded 2.5 billion metric tons of sewage. Aside from polluting, the fashion and textile factories also use a lot of water. Outdated technology used to process, dye, and bleach fabrics suck up enough water to make China’s consumption to be three times the global average for the same processes. Water supply is a big concern for the cities of China, not only do many suffer water shortages, but many do not have access to clean drinking water.
With clean water being such a precious commodity and concern, it is imperative that authorities crack down on these violations, and instill heftier consequences. Because the industry is so booming and profitable, it is easy for these companies to pay their fines and go on violating the environmental laws without concern.