The textile industry is a group of related industries which uses a variety of natural (cotton, wool, etc.) and/or synthetic fibres to produce fabric. It is a significant contributor to many national economies, encompassing both small and large-scale operations worldwide. The sequence of the manufacture of textiles is illustrated in the flow diagram in Figure 1 (see process description).

Subdivision of the textile industry into its various components can be approached from several angles. According to reference [10], the classical method of categorizing the industry involves grouping the manufacturing plants according to the fibre being processed, that is, cotton, wool, or synthetics. The modern approach to textile industry categorization, however, involves grouping the manufacturing plants according to their particular operation.

Traditionally, the textile industry is very energy, water, and chemical-intensive. About 60% of the energy is used by dyeing and finishing operations [14]. Environmental problems associated with the textile industry are typically those associated with water pollution. Natural impurities extracted from the fibre being processed along with the chemicals used for processing are the two main sources of pollution. Effluents are generally hot, alkaline, strong smelling and colored by chemicals used in dyeing processes. Some of the chemicals discharged are toxic. Other environmental issues now considered equally important and relevant to the textile industry include air emissions, notably Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) [10].