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China textile industry de-couples itself from water use

A new research from China has claimed that the country has been partly successful in de-coupling the growth of its textile industry from increases in water consumption and discharge. The researchers claim this is due to the better use of technology and water saving methods and stronger environmental laws in China.

The researchers found that the water footprint of China's textile industry strongly decoupled from the growth of its textile industry for five years (2002, 2006, 2008, 2011, and 2013) and weakly decoupled for four years (2002, 2007, 2009, and 2010) over the period 2001-2014. The researchers calculated changes in blue water (water consumption), grey water (water pollutants), and water footprints of the textile industry from 2001 to 2014. Later, the relationship between water footprint and economic growth was then examined.

Over the entire period, there was a slight decoupling trend which the researchers indicate was due to the better use of technology and a growth in the amount of water saving methods being employed by the textile industry. The concept of decoupling indicates the reduction of a mutual relationship between two or more physical quantities. Decoupling analysis is widely applied in studies of economic growth in relation to resource consumption and environmental pressure.

The research paper says that the decoupling trend as a whole was good but the development of the textile industry was not completely independent of the water footprint. In general, during the sampling period, China's textile industry has controlled the amount of wastewater discharge and achieved significant effects on wastewater management.