Kontoor Brands shared the process of its new Indigood Facility Certification.
After enhancing its water-saving manufacturing program, Indigood, in March to include any water savings technology in apparel fabric production that uses at least 90 percent less water than conventional fabric production, Kontoor announced last month that it will further expand the program to include the certification.
Textile manufacturing facilities consuming 90 percent less freshwater versus conventional fabric production, using 2018 data as a baseline, may qualify.
Participating mills are sent an extensive pre-screening survey, after which the custom audit process begins, and may take up to three months to complete. Kontoor works with third-party independent consultants to gather the participating factories’ water data—including freshwater and recycled water usage—throughout the dyeing stages as well as the utility operations of the mill. After multiple audits of each mill, the data is validated.
Kontoor stated that it reserves the right to perform onsite audits for any participating mill, and requests updated data at various intervals throughout the year to confirm that the mill is maintaining its performance level.
Indian denim mill Arvind Limited’s facility in Naroda is the first to achieve the certification, with more on the way. Kontoor will survey program participants on a bi-annual basis to ensure compliance continues.
With this initiative, Kontoor, which owns heritage denim brands Lee and Wrangler, aims to encourage textile mills to adopt water-saving technologies. The program will highlight factories taking radical steps to lower their water footprint.
“At Kontoor Brands, we believe companies have a responsibility to use resources wisely, drive sustainable innovations and preserve and protect the planet,” said Jeff Frye, Kontoor Brands vice president of procurement, product development, innovation and sustainability. “Wherever possible, we must challenge and encourage our end-to-end supplier network and other retail brands to incorporate these principles into their businesses.”
Though it’s not uncommon for large denim companies to have a set of sustainability qualifications for suppliers, certification programs are.
That is changing, however. Last year, Outland Denim launched the Maeka Standard is a combination of the Australian denim brand’s policies that center on zero exploitation and jeans that are made without poor labor standards or environmentally harmful materials and techniques; garments made with the intention to create positive change; and a social mission to use business as a force for good.
Known for its sustainably washed organic cotton jeans and efforts to eradicate modern slavery, the brand recently opened its facilities to other companies looking to produce in a more ethical way. Outland extends the standard to other brands it manufacturers for.
Indigood Facility Certification is a major step in Kontoor’s water stewardship goals. The company introduced the Indigood program in 2019 with its foam-dyed denim innovation developed in partnership with denim mill Tejidos Royo and Texas Tech University that eliminated the traditional water vats and chemical baths used in conventional indigo dyeing by replacing it with a waterless foam application.
Earlier this year, Kontoor recorded a total of 8 billion liters of water saved through its water stewardship initiatives, and anticipates many more to come. By 2030, it plans to cut its water usage in half through an increased focus on innovations in fiber production, fabric construction and product-finishing phases of the denim supply chain.
“We view expanding our Indigood partnerships to textile mills across the globe as an important step that can significantly improve freshwater conservation efforts within the apparel industry,” Frye added.