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Textiles: Reasons for Change
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
P2 Opportunities
Reasons for Change
Where To Go for P2 Help
Case Studies
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Indoor Air Quality And Textiles: An Emerging Issue
Discusses the products and materials used in the textile industry that effect indoor air quality.

Textile Process Wastewater Permits: An Update And Strategies
Offers updates and strategies that will impact the textile industry with regards to water quality.

The textile industry has historically been a large consumer of manmade, natural and human resources. Significant amounts of energy, chemicals, water and human labor are required to produce the majority of textile products. Many of these resources have historically been cheap and combined with the lack of global competition for markets, the U.S. textile industry has had little incentive to improve efficiency.

Over the last decade or so the pressures to improve efficiency have increased dramatically. These pressures include:

  • Increasing competition from international exporters,
  • Increases in the cost of labor, raw materials, utilities (Table 1 provides costs of labor and materials data and pollution abatement equipment. Table 2 provides cost of pollution abatement equipment data).
  • The expanding regulatory pressures to reduce environmental impacts.

Table 1

Cost of Labor and Materials in the Textile Industry
Cost of all employees per value of shipment1 $0.17/$1.00
Cost of materials (raw materials, energy, etc.) per value of shipment $0.58/$1.00
Cost of employees and materials per value of shipment $0.75/$1.00
1 1999 Annual Survey of Manufacturers for NAIC 313 Textile Mills

Table 2

1994 Cost of Pollution Abatement Equipment

Category End of line ($ million) Production Process Enhancements ($ million) Total($ million)
Capitol expenditures for air1 11.9 11.8 23.8
Capitol expenditures for water1 16.3 14.4 30.7
Capitol expenditures by industry for solid/contained waste1 ? ? 4.9
Total pollution abatement costs and expenditures1     59.3
Value of shipments 19942     78,267.3
1? Pollution Abatement Costs and Expenditures 1994 for SIC 2200 Textile Mill Products
2? 1994 Annual Survey of Manufacturers for SIC 2200 Textile Mill Products

Federal regulations

These pressures have led many textile manufactures to significantly increase investments in more efficient and less labor-intensive production techniques and technologies.

The textile industry invested more than $2 billion annually in new plants and state-of-the-art equipment from 1987 onward, reaching a peak of almost $3 billion in capital investment in 1994. These investments have lead to a 165 percent increase in productivity over the last decade in specific sectors of the industry, allowing the American textile industry to be ranked as one of the most efficient and productive textile industries in the world.

Of the pressures presented, the competition from Asian exporters has had the greatest impact on U.S. textile operations in recent years. In 1997-98, the collapse of currencies of almost all the major textile exporting countries in Asia caused a shock wave of artificially low-priced textile and apparel products to hit the United States. Despite the success in modernization and productivity increase in the American textile industry, the flood of low-cost apparel and textile goods on the U.S. market and around the world has lead to significant plant closing and job losses across the country. (Table 3 provides information on job losses and plant closures and Table 4 provides information on the economic statistics of the industry).

Table 3

Textile Job Losses and Plant Closures

  Since Crisis Began* 2001
Textile Jobs Lost 177,000 / -28% 67,000 / -13%
Textile Plants Closed 207 103
Source: Statistical Overview of the Crisis in U.S. Textiles

Table 4

Economic Statistics

  Since Crisis Began* 2001
Textile Fiber Consumption (cotton spinning system) -25% -14%
Textile Shipments -18% - 9%
Broadwoven Fabric Production -19% -10%
Knit Fabric Production -30% (through 1999) N/A
Producer Prices for Yarn -10% - 4%
Producer Prices for Broadwoven Fabric -8% +0.4%
Source: Statistical Overview of the Crisis in U.S. Textiles

As the American textile industry begins to recover from increasing international competition, continued investment in more efficient and less labor-intensive production techniques and technologies will assist the industry in remaining a major force in the United States and and in the global economy while reducing its environmental impact.

Federal regulations that may apply to this sector


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Textiles Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange
Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange
Contact email: abray@newmoa.org

Hub Last Updated: 3/11/2008