A renowned German global fashion brand has taken the ZDHC Resource Efficiency Module (ZDHC REM) on board. One of the company’s manufacturing facilities, with around 4,500 employees, was selected.The facility makes finished apparel items such as trousers and shirts and runs a small wet processing operation.
This project was set in motion with a key focus on water and chemical use. Key stakeholders such as the Health and Safety Environment Engineer were involved in implementing the tool. This case study outlines their experience and some success factors in engaging with the ZDHC REM.
The brand acknowledges the need to move towards sustainable production practices. In doing so, two big factors influenced their commitment to this effort.
Customer demand is a key driver in adopting tools such as the ZCHC REM. The brand wants to employ best production practices and this is incorporated into facility strategy. The brand likes to lead by example on the best way to run a facility.
Another key motivator is the drive to have as little environmental impact as possible. An ISO and agile money management system are in place. The pursuit of energy efficiency goals falls under this remit, which helps to reduce emissions but also cuts costs.
A sustainability strategy has been put in place. This is published on the website and features in regular discussions with global colleagues in locations throughout Europe and beyond.
That strategy takes a long term view, looking ahead to 2040. Alongside that long term perspective, the company looks at its systems to divide the bigger picture up into small steps. These steps come with yearly targets for change in current processes. Within their garment manufacturing facility, they are very keen on efficiency performance, not only on the production line but in every process. This builds capacity to reduce environmental impact, and cut energy usage.
For water resources, the main target is to reduce usage by about 40% in 10 years. With electricity, two targets are in operation to reduce both total usage and usage by production minute. The facility gets insights on the greenhouse gas emissions created in their location throughout the year. This can be analysed at a granular level, and usage per product or per minute can be improved to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The brand will also start a project to check GHG (scope 3) levels in the production process. The idea is to start calculating them to reduce both GHGs emitted and waste from the production process.
The brand also aims to increase its use of certified and more sustainable products or fabrics e.g. recycled fabrics or responsible sources of wool. The demand for these materials is dependent on sales. While they cannot control this, they can have the right certificates in place, ensuring availability to consumers.
Absolute GHG targets have been set in one of their manufacturing facility. As the facility is part of the brand’s global network, their results will feed into the global sustainability strategy and targets.
In general, a manufacturing facility’s interests can differ to that of a brand, which impacts on the targets and measurement methods selected. Moreover, setting targets is complex and customers don't always request them. The facility knows they will eventually receive more requests, and are preparing for this.
The complexity of measuring elements such as emissions makes it important to start, learn and scale up the effort early on, since building up data and putting a system in place is a big undertaking. Alongside this effort, the facility must also account for European regulations such as the Green Deal.
In the future, if producers do not achieve GHG targets they will face some customs duty at borders. Currently the textile and apparel industry is not yet in scope, however it will soon be, and the facility wants to be ready for this. On the brand’s side, they are striving to have the right procedures in place earlier than their competitors.
There is a good connection between the facility’s vision and its implementation of the ZDHC REM. The ZDHC REM assessment questions relate to resource use, a key factor in controlling cost and environmental impact.
Helpful guidance is given to identify where things are not being done correctly. Sometimes it’s an easy fix, other times more thought and effort is needed, which is why asking the right questions early on is important.
Company personnel often have blind spots on how things are done. By answering these questions they can see where there is room for improvement, and the best way forward. A range of informative resources are also provided, which offer helpful details and a new perspective.
The ZDHC REM provides extensive learning opportunities with in-depth information and a library. Alongside immediate impact, the team can meet annually to update their knowledge and review their answers to the questions. They can map out improvements and from there, take action.
The German fashion brand found theZDHC REM easy to use and explain providing a score of 7/10. It was helpful in telling management where the brand stands in certain areas, how they compare to the previous year and where the potential improvements lie. The company also sees this as a valuable tool for the industry and suggested some new additions to it such as benchmarking to provide context for the information provided. A certification scheme was also noted as something that would benefit the industry in using the ZDHC REM, which the tool now provides.
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