The textile industry continues to pose environmental challenges for China despite the total number of factories operating in the country shrinking, according to a report released on Monday by five NGOs.
Adidas announced plans to close its last factory in China in July and many other international brands have gone the same way.
"But if we look deeper into the problem, we'll find that what we've lost in share of exports was mainly concentrated in the garment processing sector of the textile industry, which provides large amount of jobs with relatively low water and energy consumption and pollution discharges," said Ma Jun, executive director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, one of the five NGOs that released the report named Sustainable Apparel's Critical Blind Spot.
In raw material processing sectors such as dyeing and printing, which are responsible for more than 80 percent of the textile industry's pollution discharges, China is still in pole position.
According to figures released by the 2011/2012 China Textile Industry Development Report, the export of printing and dyeing products amounted to almost $17 billion in 2011, an increase of about 31 percent compared with 2010, while the export of textile products grew by less than 0.5 percent.
The mass production of raw materials in China has resulted in the industry being one of the most severe water polluters in the country.
According to the 2010 Annual Statistic Report on Environment in China published by the Ministry of Environmental Protection the textile industry created almost 2.5 billion cubic meters of sewage in 2010, ranking third among 39 industries monitored.
"It is also the industry with the lowest usage of recycled water," said Ma.
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