Your jeans is making India very thirsty
The lead on water recycling
The water footprint of making one pair of jeans is so high that it may be leading to an ecological disaster. However, one of the world's top producers of jeans is looking to change that. Gujarat-based Arvind Ltd has been working on water recycling since late 90s. In 2011, they set up a company called Arvind Envisol which specifically looks at end-to-end water management solutions including water recycling. Today, this division not only works to achieve the goals and objectives of the company, but also that of other players in textiles, pharma, chemicals, food processing and more industry verticals.
Waste is good
The company has been trying to avoid the use of freshwater resources. It does this through two ways - One is through their water recycling or Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) plant within the facility which recycles 100% of the effluent and are reused in the process. The second approach has been a Public Private Partnership where sewage water generated by the communities around their facilities is used and treated in varied production processes.
In 2014, the company took a target to eliminate usage of 100% freshwater in their textile production. As a result, due to these initiatives, Arvind Ltd has reached 65% of this target already. While 65% of the water is from recycled sources, the balance 35% comes from freshwater sources and especially from the sewage initiative. “We will be able to achieve close to 95-96% by the end of this year, which will be much closer to our goals,” Abhishek Bansal, Head of Sustainability at Arvind Ltd says.
All jeans waterfree
Arvind believes that by 2025 all jeans in the world can be manufactured water free. Is this too ambitious a target? Adds Bansal, “I would say if we see the breadth and depth of the industry, it may not be possible for everyone to shift to waterless denim manufacturing, but we have charted our path very clearly. We have given ourselves a good chance to achieve that goal by 2025 and we also see several leading players in the denim industry are willing to do so. Although it will involve a lot of investment and risk in terms of bringing in new technology, we are committed to doing that.”
New facilities in the offing
Primarily the company’s goal has been to not further exploit any freshwater sources. The company’s aim is to take this message more and more to the larger industry across sectors. Plans are to push this through Arvind Envisol as well as to set up a centre of excellence which will demonstrate the ways to achieve water saving in the industry more effectively.
India as a market
Bansal feels that India still has some gaps to bridge to understand how the dynamics play up environmentally. And while there has been some movement in the Indian market, they still have a long way versus their European peers. “Consumers in Europe are much more aware of sustainability aspects of textile production. So they have been demanding these from their brands or their stores to have textiles that are more sustainable. In India, we still see some or the other lack of consumer awareness as one of the key challenges because one doesn’t see brands being pushed by the consumers enough on the sustainability standards in textile production,” adds Bansal.