Digitalization: Driving the sustainability efforts of the textile industry

Digitalization: The cornerstone of achieving sustainable goals for textile industry

New Delhi (India), August 25: Like any other industry, digitalization is imperative even for the textile sector. From automated weaving machines to innovative designing software, digitalization is shaping the way textiles produce, design, and market their products. It serves as a multifunctional tool for enhancing design, improving production efficiency, enabling customization, optimizing the supply chain, and reducing waste. Additionally, it excels in analysing real-time data, innovating marketing, and sales, fostering collaboration, and expanding global market reach. The integration of modern digital techniques in every way has opened the door to new creative possibilities. 

A key prospect offered by digitalization is the opportunity to pursue a path of sustainability. This transformative approach, in a multitude of ways, has intensified the industry’s ability to embrace the sustainability route. Consequently, it is propelling them a step forward towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set for 2030 by the United Nations. Whether it is energy conservation or waste management, digitalization has heightened the industry’s practices, prompting faster implementation across operations.

Mr Brij Mohan Sharma, Joint Managing Director, RSWM Ltd. said, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by digitalization, is reshaping economies through digital innovation across sectors. Embracing it is no longer a choice but a necessity in current times, to gain a competitive edge in the market and meet the evolving needs of customers. It can help companies position themselves at the forefront of progress by navigating the complexities of modern markets.” 

He further underlined the need to amplify the integration of digital technologies to meet the SDGs. He said that digitalisation and sustainability efforts are intricately intertwined and together they can pave the way for attaining the goals within the stipulated period. 

The textile industry currently bears an equal burden of surging environmental concerns. A UNEP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation report suggest that the fashion and textile industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions and 20% of global water waste. Furthermore, an abundance of sub-standard products is manufactured and imported, leading to the creation of millions of metric tons of waste annually that end up covering the landfills.

Describing digitalization as the ‘catalyst for environmental harmony,’ Mr Sharma emphasized that it has the potential to address numerous environmental concerns.  

He added, “The greatest challenge at present is to lower the overall carbon emissions. Given the consequences of global pollution, businesses must shoulder responsibility for their operational activities. It is time we streamline our operations, placing sustainability at the core, as it is the only way forward. Digitalization can be a groundbreaking step in reducing the overall carbon footprint by driving operational excellence.”

Enhanced productivity and streamlined processes are the two main advantages of incorporating digital technology in the textile industry. They can help reduce pre-consumer waste and the need for virgin raw materials, thereby minimizing the use of electricity, water, and energy. All this eventually contributes to lowering the overall carbon footprint. For instance, Computer-Aided design (CAD) technology helps to create intricate patterns quickly and allows modifications before finalizing the design, thereby reducing industrial wastage. Another example is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, which is used to track the movement of textile rolls for efficient material handling.

Incorporating digital technology is even more crucial at present, with the Government of India introducing the new Quality Control Order (QCO). The implementation of these standards will contribute to improving the quality of imported raw materials for producing superior-quality products. The demand for high-grade products has surged across the globe due to heightened climate concerns and sustainability initiatives. This new measure will help build a greener future and boost overall exports, which have been witnessing a significant slowdown due to inflation in the global market for distinct reasons.

Talking about the new standards, Mr Sharma asserted that “The Quality Control Order can help to strengthen the cotton value chain, which is the core strength of the Indian Textile Industry.” 

Notably, the basis for impactful sustainability efforts rests on transparency, which also requires the utilization of digital technology. By sharing their goals, efforts, strategies and performance, companies can demonstrate their commitment to responsible practices. It results in cultivating trust and enabling consumers and stakeholders to make well-informed decisions.

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