Global apparel retailer Gap Inc. has announced a partnership with longtime sourcing and franchise partner in India, Arvind Limited, to address global water scarcity. The two companies will open a new innovation center to promote the adoption of proven techniques and technology that reduce water use by the textile manufacturing industry. Arvind and Gap are also investing in a new water treatment facility that will eliminate the use of fresh water at Arvind’s denim mill in Ahmedabad, India. The facility will save three billion liters of fresh water by the end of 2020 and preserve the local community’s vital freshwater resources, the companies say.
When it opens in 2020, Gap says the new center will be an innovation hub for apparel companies, manufacturing suppliers and vendors, sustainability experts, academics, and other environmental stakeholders to advance and scale water stewardship across the apparel sector. The 18,000-square foot space will feature installations that showcase water management best practices and recycling technologies, a library, lab space to develop water management solutions as well as classroom training, and conference space. Once completed, Gap believes the center will generate scalable solutions that can be replicated at other mills and laundries.
The new water treatment facility at Arvind’s denim mill in Ahmedabad will replace 100% of the mill’s freshwater use with reclaimed water. The facility will use membrane bio reactor (MBR) technology to treat domestic wastewater drawn from the surrounding community without the use of chemicals in the treatment process. The mill currently consumes eight million liters of fresh water per day. Beyond eliminating the use of fresh water at the denim mill, the facility will also reduce business risk for Arvind, Gap, and the other brands that source from the mill due to local water scarcity challenges.
As water becomes increasingly scarce due to climate change and growing human needs, the apparel industry is facing pressure to reduce its demand for fresh water. The apparel industry is one of the most intensive users of water in the world and, in India, 54% of the population faces high to extremely high water risk, according to Gap.
“Traditionally, manufacturing apparel has been a water intensive, water wasting process,” says Art Peck, president and CEO of Gap Inc. The partnership with Arvind Limited is “an important step towards changing that” by collaborating across the industry to accelerate the transformation to more efficient and sustainable water use practices.