Researchers Convert Textile Waste to Compost

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A new report published in the International Journal of Environment and Pollution finds that waste from the textiles industry could be transformed into rich, agricultural compost, with the use of earthworms and animal manure.

Indian researchers Vinod Gard, Renuka Gupta and Priya Kaushik of the Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology have found a particular species of earthworm to be productive in converting the huge volumes of solid sludge produced by the textiles industry into compost.

The earthworm, known as Eisenia foetida, tends to thrive in rotting vegetation, animal waste and compost, making it a commercially grown species for composting.

Textile sludge is seen packed in plastic bags and discarded on the side of the road in India. Photo: M. Govarthan/

Textile sludge is seen packed in plastic bags and discarded on the side of the road in India. Photo: M. Govarthan/

Solid textile mill sludge is difficult to dispose of, as landfilling and incineration are not viable options given the expense and environmental concerns. Indian textiles industries are under pressure to find sustainable and cost-effective alternatives to the disposal of this industrial waste.

Textile manufacturing produces large amounts of wastewater which, when treated, creates a sludge as the water is removed and the pollutants are concentrated.

Earthworms are added to the sludge mixture, along with urine-free cow and horse dung, beginning a process that changes the physical and chemical properties of the mixture significantly.

The researchers found the vermicompost process created a compost-like, homogeneous mixture after 180 days.

The earthworms thrive in the manure-enhanced textile sludge, lowering the pH of the alkaline sludge, decreasing the ratio of carbon to nitrogen in the material and increasing the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous available for aided plant growth.

The successful tests with vermicompost in textile sludge can prove extremely useful in countries like India which manufacture large amounts of textiles for export. Research has shown other means of treating post-industrial textile waste, including anaerobic digestion, to be successful as well, often producing gases that can be used as fuel.

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  1. Pingback: Researchers Convert Textile Waste to Compost | Organic Vida Community

  2. Hi,
    I am also working on recycling of textile waste.
    We at our laboratories have successfully converted textile polyester waste (apparel, industrial) into textile utility chemicals such as softeners, dyes, pigments, etc.
    The results are very promising..

  3. So it sounds like composting is only an option before the textiles are treated to become clothes, by adding dyes and other chemicals as mentioned by Navnath. Still pretty cool though.

  4. Pingback: Guru Jambeshwar University

  5. This is fascinating! India has been inspirational as far as using worms to deal with all sorts of environmental problems. They also have a program that has been using large quantities of red worms to clean up toxic waste sites. Within a couple of years, the sites are clean enough to grow food on. Amazing!

  6. Hey!..ive also dne smething like tis..for my masters degree research.
    I converted one type of textile waste (willow waste) into vermicompost and tested its efficacy. the results were highly commendable.
    Now my PhD work is also on the same…bbt im focusing on medical waste, post industrial waste etc.,

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