As an international retailer Primark recognises its responsibility to the environment and works hard to ensure its products are made with respect for workers’ rights and the environment.
As part of our Environmental Sustainability Programme we have strict chemical management requirements for our products that comply with EU and US legislation. We also look for opportunities to go beyond EU and US legislation to reduce the environmental impact of the textile manufacturing processes. Our suppliers agree to adhere to our standards as part of the terms and conditions of doing business with us.
We provide training, resources and support for our suppliers and their factories in order to bring about sustainable change. We also recognise the importance of collaboration to affect industry wide change and make an impact beyond our direct influence. This is why, beyond actively engaging with suppliers, we work with industry experts and other brands and are members of a number of organisations including ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC).
For further information on chemical management – click here.
Our Cleaner Production programs, which started in 2011, provides training to suppliers in Bangladesh and China on how to make improvements to their washing, dyeing and printing operations. The training helps them to reduce the water, chemicals and energy they use and ensure that waste water is treated properly.
In addition we are working to phase out certain chemicals and replace them with alternatives.
You can read about our work here.
As a member of ZDHC we have adopted the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines and ask our suppliers to use these parameters which go beyond regulatory compliance for wastewater discharge.
An Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) is used by factories to treat their wastewater and remove any chemicals or dyes that have been used in the manufacturing process. Whilst there are many different types of ETPs, here you can see an example of a typical ETP system.
Wastewater that has been used inside the factory to help dye and wash the clothes flows through a large screen that catches dirt and separates it from the water.
The wastewater then flows into a tank where a coagulant (a thickening agent) is added to help separate the water from smaller particles of dirt and dust.
Air is used to mix the water and cool its temperature. A highly alkaline liquid is then added to increase the pH levels to around 11.
pH is the measure of acidity in water and other liquids.
The water then flows into another tank to further separate the sludge from the water. The pH is now adjusted again to between pH6 and 9.
The treated wastewater will sometimes be re-used within the factory. Sometimes it is sent on to a centralised ETP (CETP), often managed by the local government. Here, the wastewater will go through further treatment before being discharged into local waterways or the ocean.