A leading group of Chinese textile mills, which create clothing for major high-volume apparel brands and retailers including Target, Gap, Levi Strauss and H&M, are saving $14.7 million each year by adopting simple efficiency measures in their production processes, according to a new analysis by the US Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
These improvements have dramatically reduced the pollution generated by these mills, cutting up to 36 percent of water use and 22 percent of energy use per mill and a total of at least 400 tons of chemicals.
The 33 mills are part of NRDC’s Clean By Design program, a global model for manufacturing sustainability that is working with major fashion retailers and designers to green the fashion supply chain industry-wide.
“Great fashion can also be green fashion. Although apparel manufacturing is among the largest polluting industries in the world, it doesn’t have to be,” said Linda Greer, Ph.D., NRDC senior scientist and director of Clean By Design. “There are enormous opportunities for the fashion industry to clean up its act while saving money, and Clean By Design offers low-cost, high-impact solutions to do just that.”
Over the past two decades, China has become the epicentre of global manufacturing, and it currently produces more than 50 percent of the world’s fabric, totalling more than 80 billion meters annually.
As a result, the country is suffering from increasingly serious pollution problems while also contributing significant carbon into the atmosphere. Textile manufacturing, particularly the dyeing and finishing of fabric, is incredibly water and energy intensive as the process swallows up to 250 tons of water for every 10,000 meters of fabric produced and consumes 110 million tons of coal every year.
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