The garment industry is a major contributor to climate change. Many of the clothes Americans and Europeans wear come from Sri Lanka. Three members of Sri Lanka’s Garments Without Guilt campaign, which champions the rights of workers in the Sri Lankan apparel industry, constructed eco-friendly factories: Brandix, MAS Intimates, and the Hirdaramani Group.
Brandix, the largest Sri Lankan apparel exporter in 2007, converted a 30 year old factory into an eco-friendly plant, dubbed the Green Plant. The plant has reduced the company’s carbon footprint by 77 percent (from 2,076 metric tons to 484 metric tons). Located in Seeduwa, the Green Plant is Sri Lanka’s first converted plant. It was built in collaboration with British company Marks & Spencer.
The Green Plant features sky lighting and LED task light systems, which cuts its energy use by 10 percent per month. Water is recycled, and 15 percent of the recycled water comes from rain water.
“Not only has it reduced its carbon footprint since its renovation, it has also reduced its energy usage, uses less water and no longer sends waste to landfill. It will also continue to produce great quality clothing,” said Marks & Spencer CEO, Sir Stuart Rose.
MAS Intimates is building an eco-friendly plant in Thulhiriya which will make lingerie for Marks and Spencer, who invested $7 million in the plant. Constructed from bricks made out of stabilized earth, the plant will have a low energy “evaporative cooling” system instead of an air conditioner which will reduce energy use by 65 percent. Solar panels will provide 10 percent of power, and the other 90 percent will come from a hydro power plant in Deniyaya.
Sewing machines will be fitted with an LED based task light to reduce use of lighting in factory. Tanks will catch rain water and use it for flushing toilets and landscaping. Sewage will be treated by an onsite anaerobic digestion sewage treatment facility and bio-gas from it will be used to power the kitchen. It is estimated that the plant will be 40 percent more energy efficient than other factories, and use 50 percent less water.
“In order to be a world class green manufacturer the factory will be adapting to innovative solutions in conservation of energy, sourcing of renewable energy including solar power, environmental preservation, and employee wellbeing all geared towards achieving Carbon Neutrality,” said Dian Gomez, CEO at MAS holdings.
Ceylon Knit Trend Apparel Pvt. Ltd., a subsidiary of the Hirdaramani Group, built an eco-friendly factory called C.K.T. Apparel Pvt. Ltd, located in Agalawatte in the Kalutara district. The factory supplies knit clothing, mainly t-shirts and pants, for major brands like Marks and Spencer, Nike, Eddie Bauer, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Columbia.
Through the use of solar power, harvesting rain water, and planting trees around the factory, it is estimated that 40 percent reduction in energy costs.
“Being green is not very easy. It is a very expensive process. But within a year we were able to complete it and commence operations. In my view it is quite an achievement for Hirdaramani” said Hirdaramani’s Group Finance Director Ranil Pathirana.
“Foreign buyers are now more interested in buying from environmentally friendly manufacturers. Buyers from the US for instance are very interested in sourcing from green factories because today there are a lot of problems due to pollution and issues like global warming. So this is going to be the new standard,” said Arjuna Kuruppu, the CEO of the Hirdaramani Group’s Knit Cluster.