GAP, Arvind's new water treatment facility to save 2.5 bn litres a year

In what could save as much as eight million litres of fresh water per day or 2.5 billion litres a year, global apparel retailer Gap Inc and textile conglomerate Arvind Limited unveiled a new water treatment facility in apparel manufacturing.

The new facility put up at Arvind's denim manufacturing plant in Ahmedabad will aim to eliminate the use of freshwater in the apparel production pipeline. The move comes in the wake of the apparel industry being one of the most intensive users of water in the world at a time when India's 54 per cent population faces high to extremely-high water risk.

For this, the two global players have come together to adopt membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology at Arvind's denim manufacturing facility in Ahmedabad - the first mill in India to manufacture denim. The technology will enable the plant to now operate entirely with reclaimed water by treating domestic wastewater drawn from the surrounding community without chemicals in the process.

In an official communique, Arvind Ltd. stated that a newly constructed pipeline will draw wastewater from the local municipal line. In the face of local water scarcity challenges, the facility will also reduce business risk for Arvind, Gap Inc, and the other brands that source from the facility due to the new reliable source of wastewater, it stated.

Christophe Roussel, EVP of Global Sourcing at Gap Inc. said that the move was part of the global brand's ongoing efforts to end water-wasting processes and reduce its environmental impact.

Under its partnership with Arvind for this treatment facility, Gap Inc. will have exclusive rights to the water savings through the project, including the annual savings from the project moving forward. By the end of 2020, the project will save 3 billion litres of fresh water in total, which will be applied to the company’s goal of reducing 10 billion liters of water in the supply chain by 2020. Through product design innovation and partnership with its vendors, the company has saved more than 5.7 billion liters of water to date.

On the other hand, Punit Lalbhai, Executive Director, Arvind Limited said that the collaboration with GAP Inc. will not only help both the players achieve their water goals collectively but will also help Arvind eliminate the usage of water in its textile production process. "In the last two decades and recently with the help of Arvind Envisol we have made significant efforts towards water reduction and recycling activities. The partnership will also help in expanding the scope of water savings across various industry sectors through an innovation center," said Lalbhai.

Arvind Limited aims to eliminate the use of fresh water from 100 per cent of its textile production by the end of 2020. Currently, more than 90 per cent of the company’s water use is from recycled sources. Arvind also has the largest sustainable cotton farm operation in India for a textile mill.

While this project marks a first-of-a-kind partnership between the two companies, Gap Inc. and Arvind have had a business relationship for over 20 years. Through a shared vision, both companies also plan to open a new innovation center in 2020 focused on sustainable manufacturing processes to drive adoption by the textile manufacturing industry of proven techniques that reduce water use and address global water scarcity.

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