Working for the Sustainable  Environment



Carbon Credit





Jute and the Environment


Jute has an intense relationship with the environment. It is bestowed with natural process to clean the air. One hectare of jute plants can consume up to 15 tons of carbon dioxide and release 11 tons of oxygen during the jute growing season (about 100 days).


It improves soil fertility by providing nutrients to the soil thereby increasing the yield of other crops. Jute agricultural practices are environmentally sound. They cause minimal impact to the natural environment as they give back to nature 60% of the nutrients it takes for its growth. Jute products are 100% biodegradable and recyclable and can be disposed of without causing environmental hazards. Jute Products could be disposed of by dumping in soil containing 22% water in 100 days. Dumping requires very small amount of space and can be done at any place. After completion of dumping period, the soil could be used as natural fertilizer.


The concept of Green Market is becoming popular rapidly and jute trade is also likely to come under the influence of Green Market very soon. The Green Markets will be driven by the factors such as Carbon Footprint, Water Footprint, Eco-label, Supply Chain Audits and Retail Chain Sustainability Policies, Fair trade, Chemicals in the value chain and Life Cycle Assessment and comparative assertions with peer review. In jute manufacturing some chemicals are used which would have to address the REACH ( Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) requirements now in force for retention of its existing market as well as for market expansion in Europe. It may be mentioned that REACH is the European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use (EC 1907/2006) and it is important that all manufacturers, importers and downstream users of chemicals are prepared and fully aware of the impact this new legislation has on their business.


The superiority of natural fibres as an environmentally friendly product over synthetics could be understood from the facts that as per a rough estimate plastic bags cause over 100,000 sea turtle and other marine animal’s deaths every year when animal  mistake them for food. The manufactures of plastic bags add tons of carbon emission into the air annually. In UK the banning of plastic bags would be the equivalent of taking 18,000 cars off the roads every year. Approximately 60-100 million barrels of oil are required to make 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags used each year. Most plastic bags take over 400 years to biodegrade while some figures indicate that plastic bags could take over 1000 years to break down.


In 2002 Ireland imposed a 15 euro cent tax on plastic bags and as a result its use dropped over 90% within 5 months. In the same year Bangladesh banned polyethylene bags in Dhaka as the bags were choking the drainage system and causing floods in the capital. China has banned plastic bags in 2008 and, a year later, it was reported that the country saved the equivalent of 1.6 million tons of oil and 40 billion bags. United Arab Emirates has recently announced that there will not be any plastic bag in UAE after 2014. India also has banned plastic bags in several cities. Other countries that have introduced additional charges or tax on plastic bags include Rwanda, Eritrea and Swaziland. Bangkok is holding a ‘No Bag, No Baht’ campaign to reduce the 600,000 plastic bags which offers consumers a one Baht (3 US cents) discount for every 100 Baht (3 US$) purchase if they use their own cloth bags when shopping. This means each plastic bag will cost them one Baht. Bangkok Metropolitan Administration figures show that about 600,000 plastic bags are used every day in this city of 9 million people and the disposal cost is around US$ 18.4 million


The National Jute Board (NJB) of Kolkata, India commissioned a study on Life Cycle Assessment for developing Eco-labeling and Disposal Protocol for Jute Products. The study has shown that Eutrophication and air acidification by jute product is much lower as compared to the competing product such as paper bags, disposable PE bags, biodegradable PE bags and reusable PE bags. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from jute are negative on account of the large sequestration that occurs during the jute growing stage (Fig.-12). The IJSG Secretariat has taken initiative in this regard and has already organised one seminar in Kolkata and one in Dhaka which were attended by participants from India and Bangladesh. The IJSG Secretariat is working for Eco-labeling and Disposal Protocol for overall promotion of jute products as per discussion and recommendations of the seminars.


Jute life cycle impact on the environment is lesser than Polypropylene (PP) all life cycle stage impacts. 1 MT of PP releases 7 MT of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the nature whereas 1 MT of Jute fibre removes 2 MT of CO2 from nature. Jute and jute products are also photodegradable, thermal degradable, non-toxic, and have UV absorbing capacity.


Benchmarking of Green House Gas emissions of different products


Being environment friendly is the biggest unique selling point of jute but the sector is still short of catching the imaginations of eco-friendly consumers because of non-availability of desired quantities. As per a study on ‘ A Road Map for Sustainable Consumption’ (World Economic Forum, January 2010) it is observe that 95% of the consumers surveyed remarked that they would buy Green, 75% know what a Green product is, 63% is looking for Green, 47% saw Green products and 22% bought Green products. This figure suggests an unfulfilled, latent demand for green products that could be realized through the development of right products and product availability.