Blog: Leonie BarrieSpotlight on sustainable manufacturing

Leonie Barrie | 14 February 2012

Sporting goods giant Nike Inc last week revealed it has teamed up with a Dutch textile machinery company that has developed a way to dye fabrics without using water - and says it hopes to boost the technology's uptake across the apparel industry.

The strategic partnership is with DyeCoo Textile Systems BV, whose waterless textile dyeing machines use recycled carbon dioxide instead of water in the dyeing process. Nike says the technology has the potential to revolutionise textile manufacturing - and wants to help push it throughout the industry.

Nike was one of six firms that last year pledged to eliminate the discharge of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains by 2020. While the commitment has been widely praised by a group of stakeholders, they also say the plans set a challenging deadline and that the six brands alone won't be enough to achieve their zero discharge goal. The stakeholders also believe the initiative should have been expanded to include suppliers.

Meanwhile, a Sri Lankan firm's eco-friendly garment factory has been awarded CarbonNeutral certification - making it what is thought to be the first apparel plant in Asia to achieve this accolade and helping shore up the country's reputation as a leader in ethical and sustainable manufacturing. The Hirdaramani Group's 'Mihila' factory was assessed by The CarbonNeutral Company.

Much of the success of Cambodia's garment industry is based on its well-publicised commitment to basic labour standards, so it's perhaps not surprising that the sector finds itself under a spotlight when it comes to wider worker welfare issues.

A two-day "people's tribunal" that took place in Phnom Penh last week to investigate pay and conditions at garment factories has recommended that international brands and retailers take "immediate steps" to address the issue of poverty wages for workers. A week earlier, the International Labor Organization's Better Factories Cambodia initiative said the sector still needs to make improvements in some areas that contribute to the health and welfare of workers.

China's textile and clothing industry is also facing a number of challenges - but could be set for new growth while its competitors suffer declines as a result of cutbacks by retail buyers.


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