Member Spotlight: ARVIND Ltd
Learn how Arvind is transforming textile production
One of India’s biggest players in textile and garment production has been an active SAC member since day one. Shifting cotton-farming to sustainable and organic methods and radically improving chemical management are just two ways they’re spearheading progress today.
What are the biggest environmental challenges facing Arvind today?
One focus is sourcing sustainable cotton and reducing the negative impact of cotton farming. We’re doing this through initiatives in both organic farming and Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) farming. Another major area is addressing greenhouse gas emissions; in India we can’t yet drastically change our sources of energy, due to limited availability of cost-effective, cleaner fuels. So our immediate priority is improving efficiency and deriving more product from the same amount of energy.
How has The Higg Index and your membership in the SAC helped you address your sustainability challenges?
The Higg Index helped us to put a structured and long-term sustainability program in place around the issues that are material to us as an organization. The greatest improvement we gained was in chemical management. We’ve spent the last the two years establishing an inward chemical-quality tracking policy for all the chemicals coming into our factory and have improved our score in this area from zero to 60. And since Higg assessments are done annually, we’re motivated to improve our performance and find new initiatives every year so our score is improved—it keeps us on our toes.
Another benefit is that we establish connections at the SAC meetings with other manufacturers who share their sustainability initiatives and their business contacts. At the Hong Kong forum, Crystal Group—a textile competitor—recommended their energy auditor, and MAS Group helped us by connecting us with solid-waste reduction facilitators. This can only really happen through face-to-face meetings. In turn, we have shared our best practices across the platform, particularly our water and chemical management expertise.
How has participating in Higg Index assessments helped to drive greater innovation in sustainability?
The motivation to answer The Higg’s higher-level questions helped us to reach beyond the basic-level, “low hanging fruit” improvements. It encourages us to implement state-of-the-art initiatives with a longer-term value. For example, we looked at recovering more value from wastewater treatment plants. At one of our zero-discharge plants, we innovated a process of recovering salt from the reverse osmosis process, then putting it back into the manufacturing process. It’s an innovation that we can now share with our peers in the SAC.
What environmental and/or social and labor practices at Arvind make you the most proud?
To source our key raw material, cotton, in a more sustainable way, we have started an organic farming initiative and also a BCI farm initiative. We have around 80 000 acres under our management where we work closely with contract farmers. On the BCI side, we advise them on the judicious use of chemicals, water, and fertilizer. On the organic cotton side, we are converting farmers to totally chemical-free agriculture. We have successful models in place and currently source 10 % of our cotton requirements this way, and we want to scale this up to source more. To do this, we’re looking to partner with brands, global donors, and NGOs who can help. One of the goals is to improve farmers’ livelihoods while improving the sustainability of the cotton. There is a huge cost burden, and therefore social impact, on farmers who don’t know how to manage water and chemical use efficiently; plus through the BCI, we can target social issues like child labor and education, and gender equality.
How would you like to see The Higg Index evolve in the future?
The Higg index offers huge value now that over 2000 facilities are already on board. I’d like to see Higg go a step deeper at the source end and address the sustainability of all the raw materials used, including cleaner chemicals. On the other end, it should go a step deeper into the consumer experience and address garment care. Did you know that the water and energy used to care for garments after purchasing at times far exceeds what’s used in their manufacturing? This is something the SAC can address as our influence reaches beyond the industry and to the public at large. We can spread the message on how to use products sustainably after purchase, we can design products that require fewer resources for their care, and we can even influence the innovation of more sustainable washing methods and less harmful detergents.
Ready to join the SAC?
We are building the future of the apparel, footwear, and home textiles industry, and we welcome you to join us.