Pakistan’s textile exports recently recorded a remarkable year-on-year increase of 25.53%. Revenue in 2022 reached $19.32 billion, compared to $15.3 billion last year. Researchers and economic experts predict that this robust growth will also continue in the future, provided the government and policymakers realign textile policies with the changing needs of the sector. The textile industry is the largest contributor to Pakistan’s national exports, accounting for a share of over 60%.
Textile raw materials and energy resources are also crucial for the economy and their supply must be available in abundance and at competitive prices. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is one of the main raw materials in the textile industry, especially for manufacturers of towels, sheets and other cotton products. About 80% of the marketed amount of this colorless fluid in Pakistan is consumed for bleaching textiles. The rest is consumed in industries such as agriculture, mining, pulp and paper processing, tetra-packaged foods and beverages, electronics, water purification, personal and household care products and cosmetics.
Since hydrogen peroxide also acts as a popular disinfectant, its demand during and after the Covid-19 pandemic has increased dramatically. Hydrogen peroxide is also used in municipal wastewater applications to reduce the biochemical oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand of industrial wastewater. “The most important aspect of hydrogen peroxide is that it is environmentally friendly,” said Mohsin Zia, CEO of Descon OxyChem Limited. Zia explained that “the chemical simply breaks down into oxygen and water and is colorless and non-corrosive.
It creates no hazardous waste and is preferred by many industries as an oxidizing and bleaching agent because it is the least damaging to textile fiber strands. It also does not remove dyes from fabrics, unlike chlorine-based bleaches. Chlorine agents, although cost effective, are much more damaging to tissues and are also harmful to humans with their carcinogenic properties. “Unfortunately, the H2O2 market in Pakistan is facing huge challenges that limit production. These include inconsistent fluctuations in supply and prices due to a debilitating energy crisis.
In addition, dumping this chemical at below-cost prices from foreign countries results in loss of foreign currency and diverts demand from local industry,” Zia added. Descon is the largest hydrogen peroxide producer in Pakistan. According to Zia, the company has played a pivotal role in the successful recovery of Pakistan’s textile sector, despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and city lockdowns. This was made possible by the government’s emphasis on export-oriented industries and improvements in textile policy, he said.
“Over the decades, this sector has remained quite weak. However, as global demand for H2O2 increases, the company is now ready to make large-scale investments. The company added a new plant to increase capacity by 25% with a commitment to sustainable socio-economic growth,” he noted. Zia said he has frequently highlighted the benefits of encouraging and enabling larger domestic production volumes, stating that Pakistan uses around 90,000-100,000 tonnes of H2O2 per year, of which around 60,000-64,000 tonnes are produced locally, while the remaining quantity is imported. .
“The company also strives to ensure the highest possible level of safety when handling this chemical as it is quite volatile if exposed to substances such as metals, leather and alkaline reagents” , he pointed out. Zia added that Pakistan needs to produce increasingly large quantities of this precious liquid, to increase its self-sufficiency, stabilize production costs and ensure uninterrupted supply, in order to build capacity in the textile sector. “To do this, the advantages granted to the textile sector must be extended, in order to encourage investments and the availability of this chemical at competitive prices”, he underlined.