Successful Swedish water project ensures cleaner textile production in India

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Wed, Mar 25, 2015 08:20 CET

(Stockholm, 25 March 2015) – By participating in a unique project for cleaner production, Sustainable Water Resources (SWAR), suppliers to the Swedish retail brands Indiska, KappAhl and Lindex have reduced their environmental impact and improved capacity through training on resource efficiency.

For a garment production factory in Noida, India, the idea of coupling sustainable practices with significant financial savings was initially far-fetched. However, through SWAR they have succeeded.  Now, the factory has reinvested these savings in new technology which ensures efficient use of natural resources.

“We are now all aware of how important it is to save water, energy and chemicals, which is helpful in cutting factory costs. Building capacity and educating at every level in the garment industry needs to be an ongoing process”, says Mr Ravinder Hand from garment manufacturer Radnik.

The SWAR project is a cooperation between the Swedish brands and their Indian suppliers, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Sida, and India-based consultancy cKinetics. SWAR was co-financed by the brands and Sida, in a public-private partnership that linked business and international development goals.

More than 40 factories participated in the project. The project has contributed to saving 284 million litres of water and 402 tonnes of chemicals annually. The factories were also able to save an average of three per cent of their energy cost and three per cent of their operational costs.

“Being able to save costs through resources use efficiency is important, but it is not sustainable without a mind-shift. This is best achieved through continuous training and capacity development”, says Rami Abdelrahman, Programme Manager at SIWI.

The project trained more than 13,000 factory workers and managers in the past two years.

The Indian textile industry contributes with three per cent to India’s GDP and employs more than 45 million people. The industry is one of the largest industrial water polluters in India, and is facing serious growth limitations due to increasing freshwater shortage.

The project expands
More than half of the participating factories will continue to work on their own, continuously communicating their development to their clients in Sweden. Others have joined a network created by SIWI and the three fashion brands for continuing the learning journey.

SWAR has inspired SIWI, Sida, the piloting brands and an additional 16 Swedish fashion brands to catalyse a shift toward sustainable production and continuous learning in major production hubs in Asia and Africa.

Starting in 2015, the project scales up to include several Indian states and four other countries in the world. It involves more than 120 suppliers globally and is a part of the project Sweden Textile Water Initiative, STWI.

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