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Crystal International Grew Closer to Net Zero Target in 2021

Hong Kong-based apparel manufacturer Crystal International Group achieved 60 local and global awards for its commitment to responsible practices in 2021—some of which celebrated the company’s sustainability reporting.

The company, which produces denim, intimate, knits and sportswear and outdoor apparel, received the HKMA 2021 Best Annual Reports Awards—Certificate of Excellence in ESG Reporting and the HERA Best ESG Report Commendation for its clear and effective presentation of sustainable and ethical practices throughout its facilities.

The accolades are part of the company’s 13th sustainability report to-date in accordance with the new Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) disclosure requirements of Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) and with reference to Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards. In it, the manufacturer outlined the strategies it’s taken to ensure it will achieve zero emissions by 2050, and continue its advancements of social and environmental strategies.

The company expanded its solar paneling in two Vietnam factories, allowing it to generate more than 3,800 MWh of electricity annually. With these new projects, the company now has a total capacity of 4.5 MW solar PV panels. Since 2007, the company has reduced its carbon footprint by 40 percent, and this advancement will help push it to new heights. Also since 2007, it has planted 2.9 million trees, further offsetting its emissions.

Denim was a top celebrated category in the report, which highlighted the company’s first Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) certification in the denim division. Crystal International’s lifestyle wear factory in Vietnam earned the same certification in 2020. The denim division also rolled out the 4Zero collection, which centers on the principle of zero manual work, zero washing stone, zero potassium permanganate and zero sodium hypochlorite to reduce water and chemicals consumption by 90 percent and 70 percent, respectively.

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In 2020, the manufacturer introduced Second Life denim, which recycles peers’ pre-consumer cut waste into new fabric for a closed-loop denim process reducing water consumption and carbon emissions by 70 percent and 10 percent, respectively. The company also joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign project, an initiative that aims to improve garment durability, material health, recyclability and traceability based on circular economy principles.

Crystal International expanded on its recycling initiatives with water recycling processes that recycled the same amount of water consumed by 3.5 million people each year. By using water-efficient washing processes, sustainable washing formulas and laser and ozone technologies, the company is able to drastically reduce its use of the resource.

The company also joined the UN Global Compact, a set of global sustainability commitments based on “Ten Principles” spanning human rights, labor, the environment and combatting corruption. Along with 19,000 participating companies, Crystal International is aligning its business with these ethical practices.

In addition to earning accolades for its efficiencies and sustainability reporting, Crystal International received the Best Companies to Work for in Asia by HR Asia, a reflection of its commitment to workers. In 2021, it provided 49 hours of training to each employee, and expanded its online training initiatives like the digital P.A.C.E program, from which 500 employees graduated last year, and Harvard Business School leadership courses.

Women’s empowerment was a main focus for the company. More than 49,500 women employees took its self-developed Crystal Advocates Respect and Engagement (CARE) program, which provides education on finances, health and safety, time management and career advancement for women. The company was also the first Gap Inc. vendor to virtually organize the apparel brand’s women’s-focused P.A.C.E program, which just recently marked a milestone of its own: In 2021, the program reached 1 million women.

Crystal International also provided anti-sexual harassment training for nearly 30,000 of its employees, and provided women’s health care knowledge to underprivileged women in China.

Taking care of workers in light of the Covid-19 pandemic was also a top focus for the manufacturer, which implemented vaccine programs that achieved nearly a 100 percent inoculation rate among employees. It also donated $450,000 to provincial and national vaccine funds in Vietnam and supported governments in establishing treatment facilities.

Looking ahead, the company will release its “Crystal Sustainability Vision 2030” with new targets. It also aims to achieve the remaining goals highlighted in its Third Global 5-year Sustainability Targets, which include reducing its carbon footprint per garment by 10 percent and planting 1 million trees.