HONG KONG — Presenters at the Sustainable Textiles Conference couched the environmental impact of manufacturing in dollar terms, emphasizing not only the cost of cleaning up after poor environmental practices, but also the potential cost to brand names.
Putting a price tag on the environmental impact makes more people pay attention, said Reiner Hengstmann, global director of Puma Safe, a social and environmental responsibility department within Puma.
“With some people, [talk about environmental impact] goes in one ear and out the other,” he said. “You have to put it in terms of money for them to start to pay attention.”
Hengstmann described the company’s creation of an “environmental profit and loss account” estimating the environmental impact of greenhouse gas emissions, water use, land use, air pollution and waste. Puma estimated that the company’s “EP&L” generated by its supply chain totaled 145 million euros, or $188.6 million, a year in 2010. Within that total figure, Hengstmann said, much of the impact came from lower-tier suppliers. RELATED STORY: After the Pakistan Fire, Advancing the CSR Agenda >>
So Hengstmann suggested sourcing from more “low-impact countries,” using environmentally efficient suppliers, consolidating material purchasing and reducing the amount of styles being made. The EP&L program is to be rolled out across other brands within PPR, which owns Puma, Hengstmann said. PPR also owns luxury brands such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, as well as sport brands such as Tretorn.
Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association, gave figures describing the financial impact on environmental issues and noted that the organic cotton industry has shown annual growth rates in the double digits, even in Europe during the financial crisis. Melchett focused much of his talk on cotton production, citing data that estimates pesticide-related illnesses in sub-Saharan Africa’s cotton-growing lands costing $90 billion by 2020.
In another panel at the conference, organized by Textile Exchange on Oct. 4 and 5 at the Hong Kong Convention Center, Debra Tan, director of China Water Risk, a nonprofit focused on China’s water crisis, discussed the country’s water scarcity and warned companies that water issues would be an important business consideration in the near future.
The Chinese government, recognizing a water shortage problem, identified water as a key focus in its latest five-year plan. National and provincial caps are coming soon, Tan warned, and manufacturers need to be prepared. Though China has 7 percent of the world’s freshwater reserves, it has 20 percent of the world’s population, which means it has a low ratio of renewable water per capita. Meanwhile, the top production areas in China, such as Jiangsu, Hebei, Shanghai, Tianjin and Beijing, are in areas where water is particularly scarce.
When the government missed its energy-reduction targets during the most recent five-year plan, it implemented mandatory blackouts to meet its target, Tan noted. If water-usage caps are not met, something such as a three-month mandated closure wouldn’t be out of the question, she warned.
Speakers also emphasized the importance of working with government regulators. Ullhas Nimkar, chairman and managing director of Nimkartek Technical Services, gave an example of Chinese regulators establishing a limit of 100 liters of water a kilo for some manufacturing processes, which was unnecessarily high as the processes could be accomplished with as little as 20 liters a kilo.
Participants and speakers bandied about some suggestions to ease environmental impact and increasing control over the supply chain by consolidating the number of mills, using less harmful chemicals and encouraging the design team to be mindful of environmental impact when selecting colors.
Exclusive: @britneyspears is continuing to expand her brand. The pop icon, who appears in @kenzo ’s latest campaign, is partnering with Epic Rights to launch a line of branded merchandise. Read @hernameislex ‘s story, link in bio. #wwdnews #britneyspears
The Duchess of Cambridge channeled Princess Diana’s look upon giving birth to Prince Harry, when she and the Duke of Cambridge departed the hospital with the new baby Prince this afternoon in London. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge
The new Prince of Cambridge has arrived! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge posed with the 8-pound newborn. She wore a look from one of her go-to designers, @jennypackham. Tap link in bio for more. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge
Jewelry label @alisonlou has made a name for itself with fine jewelry that speaks to the Millennial market. Now @twallz21 reports that the label is bringing those playful ideas to a new affordable line of lucite hoops with the launch of Loucite by Alison Lou. Here’s a look from the line modeled by @emrata. #wwdaccessories
@sarahjessicaparker and @gilt are teaming up on a bridal ready-to-wear line. Tomorrow, Parker will launch SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Bridal — and as part of the launch, Gilt will offer 15 exclusive styles from the SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker footwear collection that were designed to complement the new line. Made out of 10 styles, the line is designed for a variety of occasions, from bridal showers to receptions. Get more details on WWD.com #wwdfashion
A grooming moment between @tanfrance and @antoni last night at the The LGBT Community Center Trailblazer Awards honoring Anna Wintour, Ricky Martin and more. See more photos at WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
“It was a very surreal feeling. It wasn’t like we were in the studio together coming up with it — it’s more like he discovered it and loved it. I didn’t let myself get my hopes up, but then it happened it was very exciting,” said singer-songwriter @nombe on discovering that @pharrell would be using his song, “Cant Catch Me” on his HBO documentary series “Outpost.” The German-born singer — named Noah MacBeth — talked to WWD about feminism, using art as a platform for political expression and personal style. Read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
This season, denim is going west – in influence. Brands like @fathersdaughterla (pictured here), @tommyhilfiger Jeans, @levis and more are opting for raw, top-stitching styles. (Styled by @thealexbadia; 📷: @ryanplett)