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26 October 2015

5 Fashion Industry Manufacturers Tackling Water Consumption

Contributor Ethical Fashion Forum

Artistic Milliners

Meet five textile and apparel manufacturers in South Asia who are leading the way in reducing water consumption and pollution. Image: Artistic Milliners

A study by the WWF (2015) found that more than 20,000 litres of water is used to produce just 1kg of cotton – equivalent to a single T-shirt and pair of jeans. Scientist have blamed cotton farming and production as partially responsible for the shrinking of large-scale ecosystems such as the Aral Sea, which lies between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in central Asia. It has shrunk to less than half of its original size (WWF, 2015).

The destruction of this natural area where excess amounts of water was taken from the sea is a warning of what can happen when water usage is mismanaged. All of this has had a knock on effect to the people living in the area, for example fishing used to provide 50% of the local income (Ataniyazova, O 2003).

Cotton is one of the ‘thirstiest’ crops, and we are beginning to see the negative implications of this in South Asia, which is why it’s hugely important that Pakistani and Indian garment manufacturers are doing more to decrease their water consumption. In this mini-report we look at five South Asian garment manufacturers who are going the extra-mile to reduce their water consumption and pollution.

1. Artistic Milliners (Pakistan)

Who are they?

Artistic Milliners is a denim manufacturer, established in 1949. They are currently operating on an area of 165,992 sq. m. and employing 7,650 people. They are a fully integrated vertical operation, providing high end customers with quality denim fabrics and garments. Artistic Milliners are committed to a sustainable supply chain that protects the environment.

What are they doing to reduce water consumption?

On top of recycling wastewater, Artistic Milliners recently installed the Jeanologia G2 ‘Waterless Washing Machine’. Washing denim jeans is arguably one of the most polluting processes used in the apparel industry; 70 litres of water is used in washing one pair of jeans as well as 150g of chemicals (The Sustainable Angle, 2012). Using the waterless washing machine can result in 67% saving of water and energy and 85% savings in the use of chemicals.

2. Pratibha Syntex (India)

Who are they?

Pratibha Syntex Ltd were India’s first vertical manufacturers, launching in 1997 and moving into organic farming in 1999. Pratibha has one of the largest networks for farmers in the world, they provide education in organic farming practices and support over 30,000 farmers across India. The company spins, knits, dyes and stitches each of its products within a system that is carefully managed to reduce the garment’s impacts on the environment and surrounding communities.

What are they doing to reduce water consumption?

95% of their water needs are met by using rainwater-harvesting technology. They recycle 92% of water consumed during the dyeing process. To dye a T-shirt Pratibha’s process only requires 50 litres of water (recycled), using just 19 litres of fresh water.

3. ShyamTex (India)

Who are they?

ShyamTex Exports Limited was established in 2007 and has a production capacity of 200,000 pcs. per month for garments. It operates a fully integrated modern plant that produces a wide range of garments, specialising in a multitude of dyeing techniques for luxury retailers. They produce menswear, womenswear and childrenswear.

What are they doing to reduce water consumption?

ShyamTex installed an Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) to treat wastewater. The ETP purifies the wastewater of chemicals so it can be recycled for continued use. Shyam Tex also uses a rainwater harvesting system to reduce its overall water consumption.

4. Gupta Exim (India)

Who are they?

Gupta Exim was established in 1990. The company covers 6,50,000 sq. ft. and commands an annual turnover of $60 Million USD. It is a vertically integrated manufacturer involved in the knitting, dyeing and processing of fabrics. Gupta have many luxury fashion clients.

What are they doing to reduce water consumption?

Gupta Exim have set up an Effluent Treatment Plant akin to Shyam Tex. More than 75% of the effluent water from the dyeing process is recycled and reused. The company has also set up a water recycling plant, again to reduce its consumption of water.

Gupta Exim Effluent Treatment Plant

5. K.M. Knitwear (India)

Who are they?

K.M Knitwear was established in 1993 as a small garment manufacturer. They have since expanded into large scale exportation since 1996. K.M. Knitwear is a fully integrated knitwear manufacturer. Their skill set includes spinning, knitting, dyeing, finishing, embroidery, printing and garmenting.

What are they doing to reduce water consumption?

The effluent water used by K.M. Knitwear is treated in a controlled purification background and reverse osmosis is performed – a technology that removes impurities from water – as well as multi-evaporation.


Ataniyazova, O (2003), access here: http://www.caee.utexas.edu/prof/mckinney/ce385d/papers/ atanizaova_wwf3.pdf

The Sustainable Angle (2012), access here: http://www.thesustainableangle.org/Portals/2/Images/ Press%20PDFs/Textile%20View%20Spring%2012%20FFE%20Press.pdf

WWF (2015), access here: http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/about_freshwater/freshwater_problems/thirsty_crops/cotton/

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