UK retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has linked up with the Brandix group, MAS Holdings and the Hirdaramani group in Sri Lanka for the supply of eco-friendly garments for its retail outlets.

M&S is looking to increase its purchases of environmentally friendly clothing from Sri Lanka in line with its plan to be carbon neutral by 2012.

"We have made tremendous progress in Sri Lanka. Three of our suppliers are now involved in the project to be more green," said Neil Hackett, country manager for M&S Sri Lanka.

Hirdaramani and MAS are building new 'green' factories following their deals.
The Hirdaramani green factory is to be located in Agalawatte and will be ready for commercial operations by June this year. The factory will produce casual knitted tops and bottoms.

MAS is building its green factory at the MAS Fabric Park in Thulhiriya. This factory will be dedicated to manufacturing bras for M&S and is expected to be ready for commercial operations this year.

Meanwhile, Brandix is converting an existing factory into green standards. The Brandix Casualwear plant in Seeduwa is being upgraded into a green building as a pilot project that will be replicated across the group once it is completed.

All three green factories are to be independently certified by the US Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.

The factories will invest in many green techniques such as rain water harvesting, renewable energy sources, the use of natural light to reduce energy consumption and will also recycle garment waste.

"Around 75 tonnes of waste from these three suppliers have been recycled and re-knitted in India, and turned into garments again," said Hackett.

M&S is also sourcing Fairtrade clothing from Sri Lanka and last year sold 3m Fairtrade T-shirts at its retail outlets.

By Dilshani Samaraweera.