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Gap Inc. Partners With Denim Mill Arvind on Innovative Water-Saving Facility

Gap Inc. has struck a new partnership with its longtime sourcing and franchise partner in India, Arvind Limited, to drive solutions that address global water scarcity.

The two companies will open a new innovation center to promote the adoption of proven water reduction techniques and technology for the textile manufacturing industry. The apparel industry is one of the biggest consumers of water in the world, and in India, 54 percent of the population faces high to extremely high water risk, according to the companies.

To that end, Gap and Arvind are also investing in a new water treatment facility that will eliminate the use of fresh water at Arvind’s denim mill in Ahmedabad. The companies said the facility will save 3 billion liters of fresh water by the end of 2020 and preserve the local community’s freshwater resources.

“The world is facing a water crisis and Gap Inc. is committed to finding meaningful, scalable ways to reduce our water use,” Art Peck, president and CEO of Gap Inc., said. “Traditionally, manufacturing apparel has been a water-intensive, water-wasting process. This partnership with Arvind Limited is an important step toward changing that, and we look forward to collaborating across the industry to accelerate the transformation to more efficient and sustainable water use practices.”

When it opens in 2020, the center will serve as an innovation hub for apparel companies, manufacturing suppliers and vendors, sustainability experts, academics and other environmental stakeholders, to advance and scale water stewardship industry wide. The 18,000-square-foot space will feature installations that showcase best practices for water management and available recycling technologies, a library and lab space to develop water management solutions, plus a space for classroom training and conferences. The companies expect the center to generate scalable solutions that can be replicated at other mills and laundry facilities around the world.

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Arvind’s denim mill in Ahmedabad consumes 8 million liters of fresh water per day. Once constructed, the new water treatment facility will replace 100 percent of its freshwater use with reclaimed water, the companies explained.

The new facility will use membrane bio reactor, MBR, technology to treat wastewater drawn from the surrounding community without the use of chemicals in the treatment process, resulting in a cleaner, more sustainable process. The facility is currently under construction and is expected to be commissioned by September.

Beyond eliminating the use of fresh water at the denim mill, the facility will also reduce business risk due to local water scarcity challenges for Arvind, Gap and the other brands that source from the mill.

“Arvind is committed to eliminating the use of fresh water from its textile production operations. We have made significant investments in water reduction and recycling activities over the past two decades,” said Arvind executive director Punit Lalbhai. “Gap Inc. is our key strategic customer and this partnership is valuable for us to achieve our water goals collectively.”

Last year, Gap unveiled a sustainable manufacturing goal to conserve a total of 10 billion liters of water by the end of 2020. Through product design innovation and partnering with fabric mills and laundries, the company has saved more than 5.7 billion liters of water.

With cotton is a highly water-intensive fiber, Gap began sourcing cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in 2016 to support the improvement of cotton farming practices globally. The company recently announced it will source all cotton for its family of brands from sustainable sources by 2025.

Arvind’s sustainability strategy, Fundamentally Right, revolves around an input management approach, with an aim of making all key inputs 100 percent sustainable. Water is one key input, and Arvind plans to eliminate the use of fresh water from its textile production by the end of 2020. Currently, 65 percent of the company’s water use comes from recycled sources. Once completed, the new treatment facility is expected to help the Arvind reach a point where 90 percent of its water use comes from recycled sources.