Blog: Denim maker gets greener
Leonie Barrie | 10 November 2010
Satellite images revealed by CNN show the Pearl River running blue-black
Earlier this year shocking pictures emerged of pollution in the Pearl River, where discharges by Chinese denim mills in the town of Xintang in Guangzhou are so bad they have turned the water blue-black and can be seen by satellites orbiting above the Earth.
While the problem is blamed on traditional dyeing methods rather than modern production facilities, it is a sobering indictment of the potential polluting power of the textile industry - and denim and dyeing in particular - and the harm that can be caused without stringent regulation.
Against this backdrop, efforts to clean up the region have to be applauded. Recognising that "denim manufacturing is a high polluting industry," Frankie Wong, chief operating officer Hong Kong based Crystal Group, one of Asia's largest garment manufacturers, last year signed the company's Yida denim plant onto a pilot Low Carbon Manufacturing Program (LCMP) offered by the WWF to help clean up carbon emissions in the Pearl River Delta.
The factory, located at Zhong Shan in China, has around 3,000 employees producing 12m pairs of denim jeans a year for the US and Asia markets. And after just a year it has won the programme's Gold award after cutting its carbon emissions and electricity consumption by 17%, its boiler fuel by 22%, and a 90% reduction in paper usage.
Speaking at an award ceremony earlier this month, Crystal Group chairman Kenneth Lo pointed out that implementing the LCMP has already had a wide-reaching impact. Not only has it improved operations at Yida, but it has also contributed to the firm's culture of environmental protection and also generates ideas that can be shared with other group companies or business partners.
Indeed, as just-style reported recently, the company has just published its first sustainability report - which is also thought to be a first in the Hong Kong garment manufacturing industry. And three more of its factories have signed up for the LCMP programme this year.
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