ZDHC has developed a Resource Efficiency Module (ZDHC REM) to help companies target their operational improvements. It’s designed to analyse suppliers' environmental performance and identify improvement opportunities at the facility level. A denim manufacturer, established in 2006, operates dyeing, weaving and finishing facilities in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Having engaged with ZDHC since 2014, this key stakeholder successfully applied the ZDHC REM to its operations. This case study outlines the cost and efficiencies gained by their denim department from participation in this programme.
ZDHC and Implementation HUB recognise that the largest opportunities for improvement in the textile and leather industry lie within the supply chain. They offer the best leverage to reach sustainability goals, but there is confusion around the tools to support the change.
Therefore, the Implementation HUB launched the Resource Efficiency Module (REM) on the Supplier Platform. Suppliers can analyse their environmental performance, identify improvement opportunities, and implement measures to conserve resources and increase efficiency. They complete a self-evaluation and receive over 300 practical recommendations to improve performance. The Resource Efficiency Module also allows facilities to record their consumption of resources, such as electricity or thermal energy, and report to brands.
The Resource Efficiency Module makes reporting and data retrieval easier, faster and less costly. It supports smarter ESG-driven decision-making, and highlights ongoing improvements, with hands-on implementation guidance and opportunities to track efficiency gains.
The denim manufacturer had already been implementing recommendations from the ZDHC MRSL since 2014. Its denim mill only uses ZDHC approved products, with at least a Conformance Level 1. It also worked with the Higg Index and various third party auditors as part of its journey to a better chemical management system.
To enhance its chemical management and help protect the environment, the manufacturer wanted to reduce pollution in the dyeing process. The aim was to control the use of hazardous chemicals and to switch to safer alternatives. A 2014 wastewater risk assessment revealed the presence of five harmful chemicals. With guidance from the ZDHC MRSL, the team was able to track these substances back through production and restrict their use. The effluent treatment plant (ETP) wastewater was also recorded to sulphuric acid, and the use of this highly concentrated, hazardous chemical was reduced by about 99%.
Following on from its success of using the ZDHC MRSL for good chemical management, the manufacturer’s facilities started to close the loop further. The ZDHC REM was implemented to look at factors such as emissions, resource usage or energy consumption.
A series of significant changes resulted from working with the ZDHC REM. The company saw improvements in many areas, including cross-team collaboration, cost savings and cleaner outputs. Using the ZDHC REM, their facilities could implement new ideas for CO2 recovery, reduce inefficiencies and save on costs.
A CO2 recovery system was implemented for boiler emissions via a cogeneration power system. Exhaust outputs are now transferred to boilers, where CO2 in the emissions is captured and transferred to the ETP to make carbonic acid, which can be used in production instead of formic acid.
The denim manufacturer found that good collaboration achieved fast results. There was no need to build a specific resource efficiency team. The hazardous substances found in the wastewater were traced back through production via a cross-departmental effort that included personnel from purchasing, production and chemical management.
They could also tap into the skills of their technical team. It was their input that supported actions such as the CO2 recovery project. Its Chief Engineer also helped the company switch to using LED lights, further cutting energy consumption and costs.
Educating suppliers also drives better resource management. The denim manufacturer trains its suppliers on topics such as good chemical management.
Newer and more efficient machinery, which consume less energy, have also been implemented, leading to reductions in environmental impact and cost.
A new machine is being used to soften fabrics. It gives the same results as the moisturising machine used before, but uses no chemicals and a lot less water and energy.
An Eco Applicator device reduces the amount of water, chemicals and electricity needed to finish products. Fabrics are pressed and softened without running expensive motors to generate steam or power drying processes. By reducing energy and water consumption in this way, the denim manufacturer makes substantial cost savings while reducing the environmental impact of production.
The company is also installing new solar panels as a path to even bigger energy savings.
By completing the ZDHC REM self-assessment the denim manufacturer discovered other recommendations. They plan to use the module as a resource to find and overcome any deficiencies in the production system. The company expects to benefit in many other ways from doing so.
As with all new programmes, there are some barriers to their implementation. It takes time, courage and resources to move away from current practices. This is also true for suppliers wishing to implement the ZDHC REM, but the benefits are worth it:
Management buy-in can be difficult to achieve for such projects. The denim manufacturer worked with its management to educate them on new efficiencies as part of implementing various recommendations.
The recommendations provided by the ZDHC REM provided valuable feedback, and showed management the benefits of taking action. Objective, third-party insights helped the team to get buy-in, by highlighting the rationale for change and the potential wins.
Costs and targets are also crucial. Other organisational priorities will exist, which may impact on implementation targets and timelines. What’s important is to get started however, and larger projects can be broken down into increments. Initially, the denim manufacturer had a goal to implement a 500KW solar system. That plan changed to a 2.8MW solar system within three to five years, but now that the project is underway, the manufacturer are ready to advance towards the bigger goal of 500KW.
Brand requirements also impact on what’s achievable, as they may differ and can affect management priorities. The denim manufacturer enjoyed a good collaboration with other initiatives and aspart of that programme, the following measures were recommended:
In making long term improvements, it’s key to know where to start. One of the biggest hurdles is navigating the various tools available. The ZDHC REM helped by providing one tool to conduct qualitative and quantitative research on the resources being used in a facility. From there, the denim manufacturer could look deeper into how various goals could be achieved. They also signed up to ZDHC Supplier to Zero to further support implementing changes.
Due to the the uncomplicated setup of theZDHC REM, providing useful recommendations and being user friendly, the denim manufacturer rated it a top rating (10/10). No training is required to use the ZDHC REM or to access recommendations on where to start on improvements.
The team at the denim manufacturing company believe that all companies should sign up to the Implementation HUB and get the benefits offered by the ZDHC REM.
Want to know more about how the ZDHC REM can work for your organisation? Talk to one of our team at email@example.com.
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