Since the apparel industry has woken up to the impact it is having on the planet and its people, companies large and small have initiated plans to reduce waste in all forms and create more sustainable processes for the future.
South Korea-based manufacturer Hansae has taken up the mission, reaching out beyond its own operations to be a front-runner in sustainable management. Earlier this year, Hansae established 10% For Good, a pledge to donate 10 percent of its net profits from all sustainable orders to third parties that work toward improved water management, the advancement of green raw materials, and hardware upgrades and retrofits.
The company, which operates in six countries around the world—Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Haiti—hopes that, by contributing to the overall advancement of sustainability, it can support and encourage others to advance their responsible practices as well.
Hansae, which has been in business for almost 40 years, recognizes that longevity means evolving with the times, collaboration, and limiting resources, emissions, and waste.
“Our CEO is passionate about sustainability and wants to lead in this area for original design manufacturing [ODM], which has led him to initiate the campaign,” said Hermann Chiu, managing vice president for strategic sales.
The company’s commitment to change is evident in the progress it has made in modernizing its own operations, leading it to meet—and in some cases, exceed—its own aggressive sustainability goals.
Hansae’s efforts have also allowed it to remain competitive and in-step with the expectations of its brand partners, which include Gap Inc., Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, and Pink/Victoria’s Secret.
“There has been an increase in demand from brands for their suppliers…to reduce GHG emissions, use less water, generate less waste, eliminate use of restricted chemicals and their release to the environment through wastewater, etc.,” said Thomas Park, Hansae’s compliance and sustainability staff.
Specifically, Park said buyers have increasingly been asking factory partners to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by opting for renewable energy options including biomass and solar energy. Additionally, they’re looking to manufacturers to recycle water, harvest rainwater, and use dyeing machines that require less water. Similarly, they want partners to reuse, recycle, and treat waste to keep it out of landfills.
In response, Hansae has created smart factories that optimize resources and minimize waste using digital processes, IoT enablement and analysis of production data. By operating more efficiently, the company has integrated sustainability into every facet of its business.
In 2018, Hansae reported it used 3.8 percent less electricity, 36 percent less oil, and 97 percent less coal per one million garments produced, when compared to 2015, which it uses as a baseline of its second set of five-year sustainability targets. The baseline of its first set was 2010, and Hansae achieved those targets.
The company also produced 13 percent less greenhouse gas emissions and used 20 percent less water (surpassing their own water usage reduction target) during the same period. Further, Hansae increased the usage of biomass by 75 percent in 2018, when compared to the same data in 2015.
“In order to achieve our target, we are driving more of our facilities to replace their boiler fuel from fossil fuel to biomass, [as well as] make investments for new machinery and facilities,” Park said.
The company also follows strict chemical management standards, as set by the ZDHC program. Hansae’s fabric mill subsidiary, C&T Vina, monitors inventory of 150 chemical products.
It’s a rigorous process, according to Park. “This process requires a lot of effort and time, which includes review of MSDS, safety certificates, chemical test reports of each product, close communication with 16 different chemical suppliers (as of January 2019), and separate lab tests for suspicious chemicals,” he said.
As a result, C&T Vina has been able to eliminate 14 hazardous chemicals, including banned Azo, phthalates, chlorobenzenes, chlorophenol, and VOCs, all of which has been verified by ZDHC wastewater tests conducted over the last four years.
To keep the industry informed of its progress, Hansae adopted The Higg Index Facility Environmental Module (FEM 3.0) in 2018 to measure its environmental performance.
Additionally, the manufacturer satisfies its partners’ demands for sustainable inputs by working with responsible fibers including Refibra, Supima, and BCI cotton. In 2018 alone, Hansae used more than 30 million yards of recycled, organic, and other responsible fibers including BCI cotton, organic cotton, and Repreve.Hansae’s combined efforts across chemical management, resources preservation, and philanthropy illustrate the company’s commitment to sustainability and becoming a leader in responsible production in the apparel space.
Hansae’s combined efforts across chemical management, resources preservation, and philanthropy illustrate the company’s commitment to sustainability and becoming a leader in responsible production in the apparel space.