A Chinese textile industry official says it will "work very hard" in the next four years to clean up its messes.
The industry will strive to "create a green environment" that will permit sustainable growth, Zhang Yankai, vice-president of the China National Textile and Apparel Council, told China Daily at a major textile and apparel show in New York City on Tuesday.
"In the next four years, we are going to work very hard to create a green environment so (the industry) continues growth in the future," Zhang said through an interpreter at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in midtown Manhattan where the three-day Texworld USA show is being held.
A directive issued by China's State Council last year as part of its latest five-year plan calls for the creation of a "circular economy" that reuses waste materials and reduces pollution. Environmental groups have criticized China's textile businesses for their role in causing pollution, waste and carbon emissions.
The Beijing-based China Association of Resource Comprehensive Utilisation has said China generates around 20 million tons of wasted fabric annually. If 60 percent of the materials were recycled, 4.7 million tons of natural fibers and 9.4 million tons of chemical fibers would be saved, according to the association.
More than 700 exhibitors from 21 countries are taking part in the event, which combines the 15th Texworld USA - billed as the largest apparel fabric show in North America - and the fourth Home Textiles Sourcing Expo and the International Apparel Sourcing Show.
China has become the largest producer and exporter in the textile and apparel industry. Accounting for half the world's annual fiber production, it directly and indirectly sustains about 200 million jobs, Zhang said. But problems such as slow international trade, rising material prices and increasing production and environmental costs are constraining growth, the official said in remarks delivered during the textile show's opening ceremonies.
"Although the industry has faced a relatively complex domestic and international economic situation, the pace of reorganization and transformation and upgrades has increased and these efforts have yielded positive results," Zhang said. In the first quarter, he said, the industry "achieved the goal of stable performance".
From January to April textile and clothing sales in China increased 16.5 percent to $82.16 billion, he said. In 2012, textile production rose 12.3 percent while clothing exports climbed 3.3 percent, he said.
In the interview, Zhang reiterated the industry's short-term goals as guided by the five-year plan: raising production, improving technology, developing a sustainable growth strategy and exploring renting manufacturing sites in other countries to get around rising labor and production costs in China.
Sun Guoxiang, the consul general of China in New York, said the number of exhibitors at the event from China - 477 - shows "the full confidence Chinese enterprises have the US market".
Exhibitors see the show as an opportunity to build valuable business connections and close deals.
"It is a good place to communicate", said Tony Wang, manager of oversea sales for Toray Sakai Weaving and Dyeing Co, a maker of textiles for waterproof sportswear based in Nantong, Jiangsu province.
Kevin McMullan, a Toray senior adviser, said the company was successful last year in using its presence at the New York show to convert relationships to business opportunities. "Since this is our second time at the show, we're trying to optimize those relationships," he said.