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Wet processing – which involves bleaching, dyeing, and printing fabrics – is heavily reliant on clean freshwater and has become a significant contributor to impairing this already-stressed resource.

We held a fascinating webinar discussion with three experts in the industry, who each gave a short overview about how they see water risk in the industry.

  • Shariful Hoque, Water Program Lead, H&M
  • Rakesh Vazirani, Sustainability Services, TUV Rheinland
  • Phil Patterson, Colour Connections Textile Consultancy
  • Catherine Tubb, Ph.D., Senior Investment Analyst Textiles, Planet Tracker (Moderator)
  • Peter Elwin, Planet Tracker, Head of Textiles & Land Use (presented Planet Tracker findings from Report “Will Fashion Dye Another Day?”)

The standout parts of the discussion were on how best to engage wet processors to improve water and energy efficiencies and by doing so reduce the environmental footprint of textiles production. The point was made that simple, low-tech solutions and process-improvements could generate efficiencies that could provide double-digit margin improvements. The panel discussed H&M’s approach which involves providing support and motivation, as well as an internal Sustainability Index made available to all their suppliers so they can understand their relative performance.

From a financial investment perspective, we noted the importance of assessing the local risk relating to production facilities as well as the local mandatory regulations.

In terms of measuring and reporting, the panel discussed how self-reporting is often unreliable (‘no factories ever over-estimate their use of water’). The panel agreed independent verification by experts is important.


Webinar: Will Fashion Dye Another Day?


00.51: Introductions
02:27: Peter Elwin Presentation on “Will Fashion Dye Another Day”
09:28: Shariful Hoque talking about how H&M approaches and considers their and their supplier water based risk, and the challenges they face
16:59: Rakesh Vazirani talking about how TUV Rheinland engage with factories on water related risk
23:23: Phil Patterson talking about how brands should look at efficiencies and how brands can do better in accounting for water use and more generally along the supply chain
26:20: Does a carrot or stick approach work best to engage and incentivize wet processors? (Phil & Rakesh)
30:25: There is money on the table when it comes to improvements.
31:26: A discussion about the holistic approach between water, energy, and chemicals
35.15: Sharif discussing H&M’s approach to engaging and incentivizing wet processors, and their Sustainability Index.
38.29: How do we measure and report? Self-reporting is an issue and verification by experts is important.
41:53: Investment programs in place for wet processors