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The TOWEF0 Project


Workplan overview

From a technological point of view

Participants and their contributions


The Directive CE 61/96 “Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control” (IPPC) is going to be implemented in all European countries. Best Available Techniques (BAT) will be defined for several industrial processes, with the objective to eliminate or reduce emissions. As far as the textile industries are concerned, it is very likely that most of BATs will implement closed-loop options for industrial water usage. The driver for this, at least in some Mediterranean countries, is also a scarcity of water resources which typically attracts increased water charges.Some textile companies have already started in cutting down their water consumption by re-using water from the prewashing installation in the secondary washing installation, or by recirculating the first washing water several times until (visually) the quality of the water is estimated too low to continue.

The growing application of water re-use strategies will surely cause drastic changes in waste water composition (quantity reduction, increase in concentration).

A variable composition of waste water is therefore expected, according to the application of BAT and the simultaneous reduction of water consumption for economical and scarcity reasons. 

This aspect will affect the performances of the already existing waste water treatment plants or, for the new treatment plants, the plant design and operation. 

The project objective is to establish a multicriteria integrated and coherent implementation of Good Environmental Practices (GEP) and, therefore, water saving strategies in textile finishing processes, taking into account the treatment of industrial waste water effluent (Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive 91/271 EEC) and the impact of the final discharge to the water recipient bodies (Water Framework Directive COM (98)).

This multicriteria integrated approach, aimed to promote the efficient use of resources within textile finishing industries characterised by large use of water, will be implemented to optimise the overall impact on the environment. 

The integrated multicriteria methodology coupled with an effective regulatory policy will contribute to the improvement of competitiveness of textile finishing industries and this might contribute to the attenuation of the negative effects of the globalisation on the textile finishing industries in Europe.


Textile finishing industries will be chosen taking into consideration the state of the art on textile GEP application in Europe. Water “characteristics” and energy balance will be evaluated. The water produced in each production step will be metered and characterised for direct re-use. Different pre-treatment of a given process waste water will be tested for re-use, recycling and treatment. A protocol will be developed to determine the optimum composition in terms of treatability and reusability. This protocol will be integrated into the Water Pinch Technology.Water re-use strategies will be evaluated for their effects on the final WWTP effluent characteristics. Each strategy will be evaluated applying LCA. LCA software will be implemented. The tool will allow designers to select solutions with the lowest environmental impacts. A regulatory policy will be implemented based on the overall environmental impact. Some tariff structures to fulfil the project objectives, will be elaborated.

Description of the work

The project intends to develop and improve an integrated methodology to meet the needs of Community policies through combination and optimisation of dispersed established know how. LCA will be used to established links between textile finishing processes water recycling processes and the characteristics of the final water effluent discharged to the recipient water bodies, with the aim to set up a common global framework enabling the comprehensive management of water recycling processes. Mass stream information collected for the implementation of LCA will be also used for the description of GEP. This will allow a quantitative evaluation of the GEP in textile finishing industries. An innovative LCA software tool enabling calculation of the environmental impacts and economics of water closed loop recycling alternative options will be implemented. The tool will enable user-friendly assessment. Innovative “on-line” sensors and techniques for the evaluation of waste water characteristics for re-use, recycling and treatment will be implemented. Specific pre-treatment to improve single industrial stream biodegradability and reusability will be set up. Waste water design methodology will be developed to obtain the optimum composition in terms of treatability and reusability, of the waste water streams. Integration and development of Water Pinch Technology and Waste Design in a coherent methodology will be carried out. Persistent organic pollutants with potential to disturb the endocrine system of humans and animals, and thus with adverse effects for human health and ecosystem integrity, will be analysed. Their presence and concentration will be related to different process strategies. For future implementation of the eco-toxicological final effluent standards, eco-toxicological screening tests will be assessed. A prototypal regulatory policy for water usage and discharge in textile finishing process will be implemented for including environmental externalities.

Workplan overview

In WP1, a survey on good environmental practices (GEP) in the textile finishing industry (silk, synthetic yarn and cotton) will be carried out. A questionnaire will be prepared to gain information on process operation and abatement techniques used to decrease the pollution of air, water and soil. The selection of the companies will be made from the database of companies that belong to European Apparel and Textile Organisation (EURATEX). The companies will be selected according to criteria of good environmental performance and well representation within the European textile industry – that is well representing the subsection considered in this project. Statistics of the responses will be carried out and an analysis of the results will provide the possibility to identify the GEP applied in the sector as well as their environmental performance. In WP2 and WP3 an appropriate number of representatives from the textile finishing industry for synthetic fibres and silk (5) and for cotton (5) will be selected to quantitatively, i.e. technically and economically, evaluate the application of GEP in these companies. Continuous and batch processes will be included in the data collection campaign. In addition detailed information on the manufacturing process will also be collected. In each industry a proper water and principal contaminants balance will be evaluated. The activities will be carried out on the base of an appropriate manual proposed and approved within WP1.  Results gathered in WP1 through 3 will be used in WP4. The Water Pinch methodology, i.e. by means of a sensitivity analysis, enables the engineer to pinpoint these streams and processes where relaxation of contaminant concentration will lead to an important reduction in water usage, i.e. by reusing effluent water from one process as inlet water to another process. In a second step regeneration techniques will be evaluated for upgrading the effluent water from one process to be used in the same (recycling) or another process (re-use).

In WP5 a strategy will be developed to support the decision for the best (pre) treatment scenario out of a given set of available scenarios. The aim will be to meet effluent standards and to obtain optimum recovery of specific compounds and re-use of process water in order to realise sustainable waste management.

Existing waste water characterisation techniques will be improved and adapted to the measurement of textile process waste water streams. The techniques will enable the on-line measurement of key variables for the biological and physio/chemical treatment of the waste water such as toxicity, nutrient deficiency and degradability. The techniques will be based in the first instance on respirometry, i.e. the measurement of the oxygen uptake rate of biomass in contact with waste water under well defined measuring conditions. A comparison with micro-calorimetry will also be undertaken. From the comparison of thermograms evaluated in both the absence and the presence of particular compounds, it will be possible to reach a better comprehension of the effect of toxicity, nutrient deficiency and degradability on the metabolic activities of micro-organisms (activated sludge). Moreover, in WP5 a protocol will be developed to determine the optimal composition of the waste water produced in the factories in terms of treatment performance. To fully develop the “waste design” concept for finishing textile industries, a network of “on-line” sensors will be designed, in order to allow a real time monitoring and control of waste water characteristics. The task of the “on-line” sensor is to inform waste producers, treatment plant and industrial operators when and how to discharge into the sewer or a specific pre-treatment or, alternatively, continue to re-use water in production process. The protocol will be based on the on-line information and should also include the means of feeding back the information on the optimal composition to the production units. In collaboration with WP4 the Water Pinch technology approach will be integrated with the characterisation and design of waste water as far as treatability is concern. Treatability will be used as an index for understanding how many recycling loops waste waters can undergo before being discharged from the process and disposed of at satisfying grade of treatability.In WP6 different treatment strategies and technologies will be used for a given process water stream according to the waste water characterisation carried out within WP5. Pilot and/or bench scale experiments will be performed for the pre-treatment of each single industrial process stream with the objectives of industrial re-use and improvement of biodegradability and the reduction of toxicity. Scenarios will include simplified anaerobic, aerobic and physical/chemical unit processes. The treatment evaluation will be based on technical, environmental and financial as well as flexibility, required expertise, applicability and manageability. Different mixing combinations of the raw and pre-treated single industrial streams will be tested in bench scale biological reactors to evaluate final treatability of the industrial waste water that can be reached applying different waste design strategies. For this purpose, respirometry test and ISO methods to evaluate biodegradability and toxicity will be applied. 

In WP7 the characterisation of the final effluent from selected textile finishing companies will be performed in order to assess environmental impact. Selection of environmental relevant parameters will take existing and future national and European directives and draft directives into account. Special attention will be given to substances with endocrine disrupting and toxic properties. Analysis of selected parameters will be performed on existing full scale waste water treatment effluent and on bench scale biological reactors used to evaluate final treatability industrial waste water (WP6).

 In WP8, an LCA based approach to the optimisation problem will be used to analyse the entire textile products life cycle in the selected industries, including the use and end of life phases. This approach will ensure that an optimal management of water in the production phase does not cause an overall increase in energy and raw material consumption and/or increase in chemical related impact in the same or other life phases. It will also be ensured that system boundaries are consistent with the intended goals of the project. 

In WP9, a LCA software tool will be developed. The database will be used as a decision support tool that will allow an economic and environmental comparison of different scenarios for waste water management in the selected textile finishing industry. The tool will also offer a user-friendly workspace complete with a graphical user interface from where textile designers can select alternative technologies for each process step. The final design of the tool will be in full compliance with the ISO 14040 series of standards on Life Cycle Assessment.

In WP10, a regulatory policy (fee lever) will be implemented. To support the actions of introducing a less polluting manufacturing processes, a new tariff system will be established. The fee lever will be used as a “peaceful” suggestion instrument for the introduction of eco-compatible (ecological and economical) processes. Some possible water tariff structures to fulfil the project objectives, which can also include “externalities” will be elaborated during the project. In WP12 a technological implementation plan (TIP) will be elaborated which will be the issue during project management and scientific meetings. This plan will cover at each moment the intentions of all partners related to the potential knowledge generated under the project. The TIP will be regularly used and updated; which will be especially useful when results are achieved before the contractual end of the project and/or when the consortium identifies the need for additional partners or the necessity to organise additional workshops for the dissemination of results and/or the involvement of end-users and stakeholders in the project. 

From a technological point of view

Best Available Techniques (BAT) will be defined for textile processes, with the objective to eliminate or reduce emissions. In this meaning, the production processes can not be taken any longer as invariable factors, measures considering the reduction of emissions have to be considered of the same importance of the ones needed to increase quality and productivity. In theory this is very well-known but introduction into practice is difficult and very work-intensive. In addition the integrated approach requires more co-operation, more communication between the operators of the textile chain and the outstanding institutions.

This project will set up a multicriteria integrated approach, aimed to promote the efficient use of resources within textile finishing industries characterised by large use of water, will be implemented to optimise the overall impact on the environment. The decision-making supporting tool (based on the integration of LCA, Pinch technology and Waste Design assessment), that will be implemented with the project, will be intended for even non- expert users. The tool will enable user-friendly assessment of various alternative recycling options for a given textile process. 

The regulatory policy, based on the overall environmental impact to better drive the integrated multicriteria optimisation objectives, will have the aim to evaluate, by a theoretical and practical point of view, the economical sustainability of new tariff structures in textile-industrial water usage and discharge, in order to guarantee the protection of the environment and, at the same time, the competitiveness of the European textile industries. 

Considering that, the project objective is to establish a multicriteria integrated and coherent implementation of good environmental practices (GEP) in textile finishing processes, with particular regard to the treatment of industrial waste water effluent (Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive 91/271 EEC) and the impact of the final discharge to the water recipient bodies (Water Framework Directive COM (98)), this will contribute to the implementation and evolution of the EU policies. Considering the pan-European character of this contribution, it is worth that the project will be carried out at European level.

Participants and their contributions


Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment. It is one of the largest scientific and technological state-owned Italian institutions (with about 3500 employees) with a specific mission in applied research activities, technology transfer and dissemination of innovation to companies. ENEA has participated in and co-ordinated several EU projects. Principal contractor and co-ordinator 

  • role of Co-ordinator and responsible of the WP 6, 8 and WP10 respectively on “Waste water treatment, Life Cycle Assessment and Regulatory Policy”. 

ENEA will have a sub-contractor for the Support on LCA (FEBE Ecologic) and for the implementation of a Software tool for “regulatory policy” (Nomisma)

Lariana Depur S.p.A.

Is a private company operating three waste water treatment plants - Alto Lura, Livescia and Alto Seveso - in the textile industrial district of Como. It's a non-profit company owned by 160 members, most of which textile dyeing and printing factories, with a minor public participation. They have participated in national and international projects. Their relation to the textile companies enables them to mutually seek for economically sound environmental solutions. 

  • responsible of the WP2 on “Quantitative evaluation of Good Environmental Practices (GEP) applications. Case studies in the silk and synthetic fibre industries. 

Lariana will have a subcontract for external services to the “Tessile di Como”!


The mission of the JRC is to provide customer driven scientific and technical support for the conception, development and monitoring of EU Policy. Two of the 8 institutes comprising the JRC of the European Commission participate in the project.

IPTS/JRC/EC - Sevilla

 The IPTS/JRC/EC - Sevilla is charged with the definition of the Good Environmental Practice (GEP) for textile finishing industries. IPTS/JRC/EC will contribute to the continuous adjournment of the information on the work, that will be carried out in Sevilla for the elaboration of the BAT reference document (BREF) for textile finishing processes. This information will be taken into account in the “Quantitative evaluation of Good Environmental Practices (GEP) applications” activities, that will be carried out by partners n. 3 and 4.

EI/JRC/EC- Ispra

The EI/JRC/EC- Ispra participates with the Environment Institute who carries out research in support of EU policy for the protection of the environment and the citizen. 

  • EI/JRC/EC – Ispra - responsible of the WP 7 on “Effluent characterisation” and contributing to WP5 as far the microcalorimetry characterisation is concerned

  • IPTS/JRC/EC – Sevilla responsible of WP1 on “Qualitative survey on GEP application in the textile finishing industry”


Research centre for the industry with high standard reputation. It has performed several EU project with good results. Principal contractor. 

  • responsible of the WP4 on “Water Pinch Technology”

  • significant contribution to WP 7 for characterisation of environmental impact

Environmental Protection & Resource Conservation Foundation (EP&RC)

 Non-profit organisation established in 1997 by researchers from the Laboratories of Environmental Technology (ET) and Microbiology of Wageningen University (WU), with the goal of advancing the development, implementation and application of integrated sustainable and robust environmental biotechnology for industry, agricultural businesses and municipal sanitation. EP&RC has participated to research programme on highly loaded biotechnological conversion processes, in particular anaerobic processes, post-treatment systems and wastewater characterisation. In these research areas, the researchers of the group are internationally renown. 

  • responsible of the WP 5 on “Waste water Characterisation and design”


The group is a private French company which has a wealth of experience in building LCA related dedicated software in accordance with the ISO 14040 series of standards. 

  • responsible of the WP9 “Development of an LCA software tools”

Ecobilan will have a subcontract for software development


Research centre for the Belgian textile federation. Has been envolved in European programmes, has good contacts with the government and is the centre for assistance to the textile industry. Principal contractor and WP leader. 

  • responsible of the WP3 on “Quantitative evaluation of GEP applications. Case studies in the cotton industries” 

CentexBel will have a subcontract to TO2C for “Tests on textile materials on pilot scale” and to Utexbel “Tests on textile materials on industrial scale”.

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