IDH apparel program in Vietnam unlocks huge savings

150 Olympic swimming pools, electricity to turn on 19.662 televisions for a year and 2.629.000 USD in savings. These are the improvements that have been achieved with the first 3 mills that take part in IDH’s Race to the Top pilot program.

The Mill Optimization program, one of the components of the Race to the Top program, includes projects around energy efficiency, air emissions and wastewater effluent treatment for textile mills and laundries.

The pilot, which started over the summer in 2016 aims for environmental impact and proves that significant returns can be reaped by those advancing toward sustainable manufacturing practices. The mills reported huge savings around water, electricity, coal, wood and natural gas. On average, these sustainability investments have a return on investment of 1,5 year. Total of electricity saved is 983.109kwh. The total water savings for the 3 mills combined is 375.039m3.

We are seeing great opportunities for mills committed to moving towards more sustainable sourcing practices. For example, the mills in the pilot are installing circular production models, reusing their water from dyeing and cooling processes and are upgrading their technology, which saves costs and overall greenhouse gas emissions”, explains Sibbe Krol, Apparel program manager at IDH. The program is currently onboarding additional mills and laundries into the program.

The Race to the Top sprung from a bold idea that emerged during a 3GF summit: what if all different stakeholders in the sector come together, to work on systemic changes to make the apparel and footwear industry a force for good. Since then, a broad coalition of partners has worked on the program to emerge in the rapidly expanding apparel and footwear sector in Vietnam.

Vietnamese government and the apparel and footwear industry
IDH’s Race to the Top program in Vietnam is a pre-competitive, locally owned multi-stakeholder initiative, that was co-created to reshape the Vietnamese apparel and footwear sector by promoting and enabling sustainable manufacturing practices to bring about systemic change. By identifying better business practices and creating the enabling environment for sustainability (for example by engaging on public policy and financial benefits for sustainable industry), the program makes sustainable business more competitive than the traditional ways of doing business, turning the current race to the bottom around, into a Race to the Top.

The Race to the Top is a collaborative effort between the Vietnamese government, the Vietnamese apparel and footwear industry, global consumer brands, international organizations, civil society organizations, and is supported by the Danish and Dutch government. Next to the work on the environmental impact of mills, the program also works on Worker-Engagement & Productivity, management and frontline supervisor sensitivity training, access to finance, and a public private dialogue on sustainable policies. See also