Gap Inc. is tackling water scarcity with a new sustainable manufacturing goal to conserve 10 billion liters of water by the end of 2020.
According to Gap Inc., the goal would yield water savings equal to the amount of daily drinking water needed for 5 billion people. The company said efficiency improvements and product innovation would be critical to achieving the potential water savings.
Gap Inc.’s new manufacturing goal is part of its water stewardship strategy that focuses on reducing environmental impact at the raw materials and product design level, in addition to helping communities touched by the company’s efforts to improve clean water accessibility and sanitation processes.
“Water is critical to nearly all aspects of our business, and we recognize the responsibility and the opportunity we have to reduce the amount of water used to create our products,” Christophe Roussel, Gap Inc.’s executive vice president of global sourcing, said. “Leveraging the power of product innovation and improved manufacturing practices, we can help ensure that our customers not only look great in their favorite jeans and T-shirts, but also feel good about how their purchases are helping to make a positive impact for communities and helping to tackle global water scarcity.”
Over the past few years, Gap Inc. has also elevated water efficiency improvements at the mill, laundry and product level.
In 2013, Gap Inc. introduced a Mill Sustainability Program to improve environmental and social practices at its supplying fabric mills. The company encourages its suppliers to conduct environmental assessments on water use with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index—a suite of tools enabling industry members to accurately measure and score their sustainability performance.
Gap Inc. is actively monitoring wastewater quality at denim laundries through its Water Quality Program, an initiative launched in 2004 that ensures denim laundries’ wastewater is properly treated. To improve its denim products, the Gap brand established a denim wash program dubbed Washwell, which reduces water use by 20 percent or more. Since launching the program in 2016, the Gap brand has saved more than 100 million liters of water.
The company is also working with other leading authorities to support more environmentally responsible manufacturing processes. Those efforts include helping to scale the Natural Resources Defense Council‘s Clean by Design program, which collaborates with mills to reduce their chemical, energy and water use. As a member of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Program, Gap Inc. has made a commitment to minimize the use of hazardous chemicals in apparel product life cycles by 2020. The apparel company also signed the United Nation’s Global Compact CEO Water Mandate.
Gap Inc.’s various programs are helping communities worldwide receive cleaner drinking water.
The company’s Women and Water program is working to help communities boost clean water accessibility and sanitation. In 2014, the company integrated its water, sanitation and hygiene curriculum into its P.A.C.E. program that educates female garment workers about safe water-handling practices.
Through its partnership with WaterAid, an organization that fosters clean water implementation, Gap Inc. has provided more than 34,000 people with access to hygiene education, sanitation and clean water. The two organizations aims to reach an additional 20,000 people and 4,000 households through their water stewardship efforts.
Since 2014, Gap Inc.’s projects have worked to conserve more than 2.4 billion liters of water and progress toward the new goal is under way due to improvements in clean water access, product design and material sourcing.