Reducing water waste in textile industry

Scaling a proven approach with the Apparel Impact Institute.

The recently created Apparel Impact Institute (AII) is modeling its commitment to market led scaling of sustainable practices by jumping into action to accelerate a proven approach on water conservation in the textile industry.

In partnership with Clean by Design, a program under the Natural Resources Defense Council, AII is reaching out to apply the program’s tested approach to a new set of mills in China. This move is seen as a crucial step in conserving water in apparel manufacturing, identified by most front-running companies in the sector as a key sustainability concern that needs to be addressed with urgency.

In 2018, AII is partnering with Clean by Design and like-minded initiatives to consolidate and apply their tried and tested approaches to hundreds of mills under the Scaling Mills Impact initiative with an explicit focus on water conservation. The initiative improves sustainable production by introducing facilities to their 10 Best Practices to conserve water, reduce fuel use and lower electricity use. In its first roll-out, in 2014, participating mills in the Clean by Design Program conserved up to 36% water, reduced energy use by 22%, and removed 400 tons of chemicals from their production process, all the while saving an average of nearly $500’000.

Ted van der Put, Executive Representative at IDH and board member at AII says: “The apparel industry has many sustainability issues that require collective action, however saving water and energy in mill operations stands out as an industry priority for the broad consensus on seriousness and viable remediation options of this issue. That’s why the Apparel Impact Institute has chosen this as their launching initiative for scale”

The AII was created in October 2017 in a collaboration of IDH, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), HSBC, and leading apparel brands such as Target, PVH, and GAP. To lower the threshold of reducing social and environmental impact and avoid fragmentation and duplication between sustainability interventions, the AII scopes promising approaches and connects them to the resources necessary to achieve scale.