Fashion’s toxic chemical footprint

The blog by Karun Tyagi

Today, the regular use of petroleum-based products and other non-renewable assets are depleting the world’s natural resources. In addition to the damage caused by this depletion, the use of these natural resources has resulted in serious environmental damage — burning petroleum-based fuels have seriously damaged the Earth’s atmosphere, while petroleum and oil-based products harm the ecosystem

As our clothing addiction grows, the fashion industry’s use of hazardous chemicals is expected to become much more difficult. According to the 2017 Pulse of the Fashion study, apparel consumption is expected to increase by 63% to 102 million tonnes per year by 2030. We know that the fashion industry wants to showcase new colours every season,” and “every time you have a new hue, you’re going to utilise more, new kinds of chemicals, dyestuffs, and pigments.”

The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) is a multi-criteria measure of the environmental performance of products that are based on petrochemicals as well as products that are bio based across the product’s entire life cycle.

PEF information is compiled with the ultimate goal of finding ways to lessen the negative effects that products have on the environment, taking into account the actions that occur along the supply chain (from extraction of raw materials, through production and use, to final waste management). The Product Environmental Footprint offers a methodology for modelling the environmental consequences of the flows of material and energy as well as the emissions and waste streams associated with a product throughout product life cycle.

The purpose of lifecycle thinking is to develop products that are more sustainable in the long run, both in terms of the impact they have on the environment and the benefits they provide to society and the economy. Inventors need to evaluate the whole spectrum of affects that their invention will have throughout the course of its existence in order to accomplish this goal. For instance, they need to consider the amount of energy and water that is needed during manufacture, the pollutants that are emitted during usage, and the waste that is produced when the product reaches the end of its useful life.

Chemists working in the bio based industry are addressing environmentally and socioeconomically unsustainable dependence on petroleum which remains the key feedstock for a wide array of products. Biofuels are a major focus of the bio based industry, but the sector is expanding. Researchers and firms now also emphasize and commercialize bio-derived replacements for basic chemicals on which nearly every industry depends

Developing chemical feedstocks from renewable sources and using catalytic chemistry to create high-value chemicals that replace petrochemical products is critical to achieving sustainability

Image by vectorjuice on Freepik

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