Nylon producer Nilit is shrinking the environmental footprint of its yarns by making over its energy source.
The 51-year-old Israeli company has introduced a cogeneration power plant on-site at its primary manufacturing facility in Migdal HaEmek. With natural gas as the fuel source, the plant produces cogeneration steam, which Nilit then uses to create compressed air and cold water.
“Throughout its 51-year history, Nilit has undertaken efforts in water conservation, energy usage and materials and waste management,” said Sagee Aran, head of the global marketing department at Nilit. “The move to more sustainable, greener energy at the heart of our manufacturing infrastructure accelerates this effort in a game-changing way.”
The cogeneration steam has been specially engineered to allow Nilit to derive energy that fits its particular needs. But this custom engineering comes with the challenge of having to constantly make adjustments to ensure consistent energy. Because the process was purpose built for Nilit, Aran is skeptical that other companies or industries can directly copy the energy model.
“It depends upon the level of energy used by each company,” he said. “Nilit is able to create energy in a variety of ways from steam, and this enables the company to reuse waste, whereas at other companies the same energy may be lost.”
Courtesy of the steam, Nilit’s plant is able to lower the use of natural gas by up to 75 percent, while also reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent. This plant model also fully eliminates emissions of harmful gasses, including sulfur dioxide.
Along with powering Nilit’s production, the plant provides energy to other local businesses. Despite the significant investment in the facility, Nilit says the plant is the most cost-effective energy conversion within the industry. This approach toward power is also uncommon. “Most companies do not have power plants on-site for cogeneration, making Nilit unique in the industry,” noted Aran.
Looking ahead, Nilit aims to reuse the water from the cogeneration energy creation process, further reducing its natural resource consumption.
Across the company, the manufacturer has adopted a zero-waste strategy to recycle materials used in the processing of its yarns, including packaging and byproducts of extrusion.
Nilit’s cogeneration plant fits into the company’s existing corporate social responsibility pillars announced in 2019. Aimed at improving the life-cycle-assessment metrics of its products, the formal sustainability strategy includes ramping up capacity for its recycled nylon line Sensil EcoCare, researching and developing bio-based and biodegradable products and collaborating with sustainable apparel brands.
“Our Total Product Sustainability theme, which encompasses all of our activities, drives us to manufacture products in a responsible way for the environment and the people living on our planet,” said Aran. “We believe that our partners downstream and suppliers will be joining this new state-of-mind responsible practice. Nilit is entering a new era of innovation for a new world, offering a better experience for consumers that will provide performance associated with sustainability solutions.”
What’s the most important issue the fashion industry has yet to address?
“Convincing the consumers that we are all producing in a responsible way and that the consumer is part of this cycle. Increasing the portion of apparel made from recycled pre-consumer and post-consumer waste. Providing products that are more durable with an extended lifespan, reducing product waste going into landfills and causing ocean pollution.
“Ensuring resilience of brick-and-mortar businesses following Covid-19’s crisis effect on the retail market, preserving the in-store experience for consumers to see and feel products to address the importance of actually touching sustainable products before purchasing.”
Sourcing Journal’s Sustaining Voices celebrates the efforts the apparel industry is making toward securing a more environmentally responsible future through creative innovations, scalable solutions and forward-thinking initiatives that are spinning intent into action.
See more of our Sustaining Voices honorees and their stories, here.