Jan. 27 - One of Indonesia's leading batik manufacturers is cleaning up her act and persuading others to do the same, by changing the way she deals with factory waste. Batik fabric is among the country's best known products, but its traditional production methods are a significant cause of pollution, as Tara Cleary reports.
Batik is part of the fabric of Indonesia - it's been produced here for centuries. But the beauty of the finished product comes at a cost. The process uses wax, dyes and bleach, which by conventional practice, end up in the country's river systems. Now, one manufacturer is trying to change that. Hanny Winotosastro's factory is using limestone to treat waste water before discarding it. SOUNDBITE: HANNY WINOTOSASTRO, WINOTOSASTRO TRADITIONAL BATIK FACTORY OWNER, SAYING (Bahasa Indonesia): "We are creating environmentally friendly batik. We treat all the waste from solid to liquid in order to reduce environmental pollutants." The procedure is called "end of pipe treatment" where water-based pollutants are neutralized with powdered limestone. Chemical specialist Eko Sugianto says that while limestone-based waste treatment is common in Indonesia, batik makers still need to get on board. SOUNDBITE: EKO SUGIANTO, CHEMICAL SPECIALIST FROM GAJAHMADA UNIVERSITY, YOGYAKARTA, SAYING (Bahasa Indonesia): "Limestone is an alkaline agent and the waste is acid. Alkaline has the ability to neutralize low pH acid so the liquid becomes an environmentally safe fluid waste." Winotosastro travels across the region to introduce limestone wastewater treatment to other batik makers. But she has her work cut out for her. Many believe that altering production methods - even at the waste management stage - could diminish the fabric's authenticity. However, there is hope. Indonesian consumers are becoming increasingly discerning about what they buy. Which is helping Winotosastro to weave her narrative of batik production that is clean, yet authentic.