Hong Kong based Crystal Group, one of Asia's largest garment manufacturers, is taking steps to improve the energy, water, waste, material usage, air quality and noise at its Yida denim factory to prove the industry doesn't have to be as polluting as many critics claim.

Located at Zhong Shan in China's Pearl River Delta, Yida was set up in 2005 and makes 1m pairs of jeans a month for Levis, Gap, Target and JC Penney as well as the Asian market. The company is the third biggest bottoms exporter in the People's Republic of China, and has a 4% share of the US jeans market.

Crystal Group's first sustainability report, released at the end of last year, revealed it is well on its way to achieving its five-year environmental targets.

And the company has now provided details of the investments underway at Yida, including the introduction of three new technologies, including the G2 waterless denim washing machine, a laser alternative to sandblasting, and an energy-saving Bigmac Hydro-extractor.

Instead of chemicals and water, the G2 waterless washing machine uses an ionised gas (plasma) to fade the denim to give a washed-out effect. It also saves time and energy, the company says.

The laser machine offers an alternative to sandblasting denim jeans, a process that has already been banned by Levi's and H&M. Compared with the traditional technique, the laser machine reduces dust, saves manpower and takes just two minutes to finish a pair of jeans instead of three hours of sandblasting.

The latest investment is the Bigmac Hydro-extractor, a front-loading washing machine that uses one-third of the water and half the electricity of a traditional top loading machine.