The higher quantities of water and a wider spectrum of dyes and auxiliary chemicals used impart a complex nature to combined effluent from various textile manufacturing units. Standards for color, organics, and dissolved solids are becoming stringent with time and regulators are in demand of zero liquid discharge units. For any zero liquid discharge facility, the major concerns include higher energy consumption for reject management and the generation of hazardous solid waste. As per the government regulations in Tamil Nadu, India, all the textile industries with a daily effluent discharge of more than 25 kiloliters must set up a zero liquid discharge facility. This has led to the accumulation of million tons of hazardous solid waste in the premises of textile manufacturing units. A carbon footprint is a measure of the total amount of greenhouse gases emissions of a defined person, organization, or a region associated with certain activities, production processes and life cycle of a product. The application of carbon footprint analysis to different waste management options can effectively help in the quantification of the overall environmental impact. The analysis performed can give key inputs to the stakeholders in the decision-making process regarding waste management in textile industries. Based on the methodology applied as per IPCC guidelines, the carbon footprint of a zero liquid discharge textile manufacturing facility in south India was found to be 10598.31 tCO2 equivalents per year. Sustainable waste management in textile industries plays an important role in minimizing the overall environmental impact of this continuously growing industry. © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020.