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Saitex Expands With a Denim Mill

Sustainability-focused denim manufacturer Saitex has taken its production capabilities to the next level with the opening of its own mill.

Located in the Nhon Trach Industrial Zone in Dong Nai, Vietnam, 40 minutes from its Ho Chi Minh City factory, the 100,000-square-meter complex will officially open its doors to clients in August. The certified B Corp’s new operation will complement its denim factory, which produces an average of 18,000 pairs of jeans per day.

Saitex, which is ramping up production at a recently opened stateside factory in Los Angeles, has pioneered water-saving measures that cut the average impact of a single pair of jeans from 80 liters down to just 1.5. Its semi-automated factories on both sides of the globe have implemented water-recycling technology designed to allow for the continued use of the resource in the washing and finishing process. Water passes through a $2-million H2Zero advanced filtration system, removing chemicals and dyes. The closed-loop process cuts out the need for fresh water from surrounding waterways.

Saitex's H2Zero filtration system.
Saitex’s H2Zero filtration system. Saitex

“I think [the mill] gives not only Saitex, but whoever else we supply the fabric to, a unique opportunity to probably have the most sustainable fabric on the planet,” founder Sanjeev Bahl told Sourcing Journal. “We’ve taken a strong position that all the fabric that we manufacture in our plant will either be organic or recycled.”

Staying true to its established ethos, Saitex has taken “all the steps that we needed to make [the mill] infrastructurally sound,” Bahl added. “We recycle all the water, and go as far as creating steam from sludge—so the whole concept has been to use waste as an input for manufacturing.”

The mill underwent a soft opening in May, and the dyeing, weaving and finishing departments are up and running, Bahl said,. “The spinning department, which is where most of the inventions and innovations will take place, will be fully operative in August,” he noted.

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According to Bahl, Saitex is pursuing Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Global Recycled Standard (GRS) certifications for the mill to match the distinctions its sewing and washing facilities have already achieved. “The unique opportunity for Saitex to the provide a fully-finished, GOTS-certified product would be huge” in promoting supply-chain transparency for sustainably minded brands, he said.

Designed in partnership with ACSC, a FIDIC Silver contractor, the mill’s structures were built to LEED gold certification standards, including natural ventilation in production areas, offices and communal spaces, and a reflective roof. In addition to its custom water recycling system, which supports mill operations, rainwater is collected for use in flushing factory toilets, irrigation and fire-fighting capabilities. The mill is run on solar power, using 15,000 panels to generate needed energy, the company said.

Despite the long list of operational features, just half of the mill’s footprint will be taken up by factory buildings. A full 40 percent will be reserved for a clean, hydroponic vegetable farming system that will support workers and the local community, yielding 6 tons of produce per year. While Saitex’s stated goal is for the mill to become carbon neutral by 2025, it plans to offset any emissions generated through the planting of 6,000 trees within its industrial park, and more than 123 acres of mangrove trees in the surrounding region.