Denim manufacturers are seriously re-looking the intensive water consumption the garment requires and taking corrective action
AS PER the World Bank, textile dyeing and treatment are responsible for 17-20% of industrial water pollution in the world. An average pair of jeans, for instance, uses around 42-45 litres of water just in the finishing process, as per industry figures. But now, some denim manufacturers have begun to take note of this and are taking steps to correct it. Levi Strauss & Co, for instance, has been using less water in the manufacturing of its denims. Its ‘Water<Less Jeans’—Levi produced 1.5 million pairs in 2010—produced using the water-saver method, were introduced in the US in 2011 to great success.
“Sustainability is the start of any manufacturing process. It can’t be added mid-way. It requires a paradigm shift in thinking,” says Michael Kobori, vice-president, sustainability, Levi.
Closer home, Kewal Kiran Clothing, the manufacturer of Killer Jeans, claims it uses 80% less water than earlier to manufacture each pair of its ‘water-saver’ denims. “There is growing awareness about eco-friendly products and consumers are supporting this cause,” says Kewalchand P Jain, chairman and managing director, Kewal Kiran Clothing, adding, “The response to our water-saver denims has been very good not just in India, but also in countries where we export the product. With our water savings between 70-80%, it will help add to the global awareness towards the environment.”
Haryana-based Numero Uno Clothing, a lifestyle brand offering casual wear, including denims, says it has been offering ‘water-saving’ jeans, too, for quite some time now. It also recycles 100% of the water used in the washing process for gardening, watering, etc, at the manufacturing plant. “Every garment from Numero Uno Jeanswear comes from nature-friendly surroundings and technology. We have adopted eco-friendly production systems and are actively involved in contributing to save the environment. We also recycle the water we use—we have installed solar heaters and an effluent treatment plant to clean the waste water,” says Narinder Singh, managing director, Numero Uno Clothing.
Typically, jeans are washed in large washing machines—dryers are later used to create a unique look and feel—and an average pair goes through three-10 wash cycles. The new finishing process being employed by these companies uses the same materials and techniques, but finds new ways to apply them. Changes include using dry (for example, ceramic) stones in place of wet (pumice) ones and reducing the number of wash cycles by combining multiple cycles into a single one. The end result is just as effective, but far more efficient.