Apparel maker Anvil Knitwear has achieved a double-digit drop in the amount of water used to produce its T-shirts, according to its 2011 CSR progress report, but emissions have risen as production and product ranges have expanded.

The socially and environmentally responsible sportswear manufacturer operates one of the top ten largest organic programmes worldwide, and is looking at new ways to reduce its environmental footprint - including ambitious targets by 2020.

Its latest update shows the American company reduced its water, steam and electricity usage per pound of finished T-shirt fabric in fiscal 2010, and cut landfill waste by 25%.

Anvil's textile facility also used 10% less production water - equivalent to saving around 60m gallons - as a result of changes made in dye/bleach recipes and reuse of cooling water. The company has set the goal of reducing water per unit produced by 20% by 2020.

The first Product Water Footprint also reveals that the majority of water consumed during production of Anvil T-shirts occurs during the agricultural process - when cotton is grown and cultivated - compared to water consumed during the textile manufacturing process.

"Using the results of Anvil Knitwear's first water footprint assessment, we are working on a fibre diversification and sustainability scorecard that takes into account the impact of water in our agricultural supply chain," explains Caterina Conti, Anvil's executive vice president and head of sustainability.

The Product Water Footprint also found that most of the water used at Anvil's production facilities is not actually consumed, but is returned to the same watershed from which it was sourced. Furthermore, water consumption during textile processing has a minimal impact on water deprivation because Anvil manufactures in water-abundant areas.

While the company made many strides in its sustainability efforts, a 35% increase in production and a change in product mix in 2010 resulted in a 32% jump in emissions than the previous year. In particular, a switch to a higher percentage of dyed T-shirts, which use around twice the energy and three times the water than bleached shirts, was blamed.