MAS Holdings officially launched the MAS Fabric Park (MFP) in Thulhiriya, Sri Lanka, on Friday (19 October), having struck a deal to accommodate Marks & Spencer there.

The company is positioning the park as the world's first eco-friendly industrial zone dedicated to fabric and apparel manufacturing.

"Traditionally fabric mills are seen as polluting and the garment industry is seen as sweat shops," said the chairman of MAS Holdings, Mahesh Amalean. "We are reversing the tradition.

"MFP is going to be the world's first eco-friendly fabric and apparel manufacturing zone."

Since taking over management of the site from the Government last year, MAS has been overhauling the 165-acre zone on an eco-friendly blueprint, at the cost of US$25m.

"We are modernising existing facilities to world-class standards and we are ensuring that everything is built to be eco-friendly.

"For instance, we have biological and chemical treatment, a Swedish clarifying system and we are building a submerged flow wetland as a soakage area," added Amalean.

In keeping with its environmentally friendly theme, much of the output of the park will be recycled and reused.

For instance, the company will share its treated waste water with farmers in the neighbourhood and will also generate and re-use bio-gas and compost from its waste.

Earlier this year, British retailer Marks & Spencer selected MFP as the location for its first 'green' manufacturing plant, which is connected with the retailer's Plan A eco initiative. It plans to manufacture bras there.

MFP also houses three more investments worth about US$60m, including ventures by the two Spanish companies DogiEFA and Text Print and a local company called BAM Knitting.

These production units occupy around 40% of the nearly 1m square feet of built up space available at MFP, with the park still on the lookout for investors.

"We believe we need another four investments to make this project viable. So we are looking for partners. We are looking in the areas of dyeing and finishing, or any other mill that will support our supply chain," said Amalean.
By Dilshani Samaraweera.