Caring is the theme of the latest sustainability report for the Yida denim jeans factory

'Caring' is the theme of the latest sustainability report for the Yida denim jeans factory

In its quest to improve the sustainability of its business, the latest milestones achieved by Crystal Group's Zhongshan Yida Apparel jeans making facility highlight its progress in reducing the carbon footprint of each garment made.

Long-term goals outlined in the company's new sustainability report include zero landfill, zero wastewater discharge, and zero municipal water use - as well as expanding a garment worker training programme set up with clothing retailer Gap.

Among the highlights in its efforts so far are the treatment of all wastewater generated during jeans production (a total of more than 1.5m tons) - and re-using 90% of the treated wastewater in production, greening and cleaning.

Installation of an SAP ERP system across the whole production cycle has achieved a "paperless office", the company says, while an electronic production management system helps eliminate paper in the production lines. This system also provides a real-time update of production data, which makes it easier to monitor productivity.

RFID technology is also used for real-time monitoring of production, which saves time and manpower in tracking processes.

The use of lasers in surface finishing has been extended to value-added handwork effects, which saves costs as well as replacing the harmful sandblasting process.

And as part of its goal of sending zero waste to landfill, a recycled cotton fabric factory has been established to up-cycle fabric remnants into new material for eco and recycled jeans.

The company is also working towards the elimination of hazardous substances as set out by Greenpeace's Detox challenge, which it believes will enable it to form stronger partnerships with "the better players" in the supply chain, as well as gaining trust from customers.

Yida is also working with clothing retailer Gap Inc to launch the PACE (Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement) educational learning programme for female workers. In its first year, nearly 300 women took part - and the aim is to extend the scheme to male workers as well as other Crystal Group factories.

The Yida denim jeans factory is wholly owned by Crystal Apparel, itself a subsidiary of Hong Kong based Crystal Group. As one of Asia's largest garment manufacturers, Crystal Apparel accounts for 8% of US jeans imports and 26% of jeans imported from China.

The figures for Yida are no less impressive. With facilities in Zhongshan and Jintan in China's Pearl River Delta, it claims the largest denim jeans production base in Asia, with 3,800 employees and customers including Levi Strauss, H&M, Gap, Wrangler, Lee and JCPenney

Annual production is nearly 30m garments with total sales of over HKD2bn (US$258m) - and according to customs statistics was China's second-largest exporter of cotton trousers and shorts last year.

Crystal Group is currently on its second set of five-year environmental targets, which run from 2013 to 2017. Among its targets are sending zero production waste to landfill, and reducing carbon footprint and energy consumption per garment by 6% and 5% respectively. It also wants to cut fresh water consumption per garment by 10%.