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Brandix Becomes World’s First Net Zero Carbon Apparel Manufacturer

Brandix has just taken one giant leap for apparel manufacturing—and ultimately, for mankind, too.

The Sri Lanka-based apparel manufacturer’s Batticaloa factory has become the world’s first apparel manufacturing facility to achieve ‘Net Zero Carbon’ certification.

“This signifies that the factory in Batticaloa has completely neutralized its environmental impact through carbon dioxide emissions by being highly energy efficient and using on-site renewable energy resources,” the company said on its Facebook page announcing the news in line with World Environment Day Wednesday.

The Cleaner and Greener Certification, issued by the Leonardo Academy, verifies Brandix’s Net Zero Carbon claim. The U.S.-based non-profit helps organizations quantify their emissions footprints and develop strategies to reduce their environmental impact. Participation in the Academy’s Cleaner and Greener program helps earn companies credit toward Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) status—something Brandix, one of the largest suppliers of apparel to the U.S. and Europe, has also already achieved.

In line with that, Brandix has become the first Sri Lankan company and the first apparel manufacturer to join the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, noting that by 2023, all 16 factories under the company’s direct control will be Net Zero Carbon.

“To achieve this ambitious goal, its decarbonization strategy involves onsite renewable energy generation—with Brandix currently adding nearly 20MW of solar and biomass to its current energy mix—and energy optimization strategies including the installation of technologically advances and energy efficient air compressors, HVAC systems, sewing machines, lighting and building fabric,” the World Green Building Council (WGBC) said in a statement.

Already proving its ability, Brandix’s Batticaloa factory achieved the highest LEED Platinum rating in Sri Lanka, which, according to WGBC, is also the second-highest LEED Platinum-rated manufacturing facility in the world.

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These milestones, however, are par for the course for a company that has centered its efforts around sustainability and reducing apparel’s environmental impact.

“We achieved our first sustainability global milestone in 2008 by securing the world’s first LEED Platinum certification for our factory in Seeduwa, and we are pleased to demonstrate our continued leadership through signing the Commitment,” Brandix group CEO Ashroff Omar said in the WGBC statement. “Striving for excellence at every stage of our business, we will continue to work towards our goals in environmental sustainability on an inspired journey to lead the way and become a global benchmark.”

Speaking last month at the Sourcing Summit: Hong Kong, Brandix director of supply chain Afham Ali admitted that the company’s sustainability journey began at the request of the brands it was making for but has since taken on a life of its own.

Over the past 10 years, Ali said, in addition to water consumption that nearly has been halved, “96 percent of our waste does not go to landfill—and it will very soon be 100 percent.”

But these are all means to the kind of end companies seeking out more sustainable paths should be after, he said. “Today, people are getting access to clean water on account of these initiatives,” Ali said. “These are associates of our own and their communities.”

While sustainable efforts may pull at the heartstrings, brands and retailers can’t escape the more pressing reality of sustainability’s costs pulling at their purse strings. As Ali noted, however, it’s not about jumping on every sustainability bandwagon and making a little splash in a lot of areas. It’s about taking on the key aspects of greening the business, those that will both resonate and, ultimately, reap bottom-line rewards.

“If we try to put those dollars in a wide variety of things, it won’t work,” Ali said. “But if we’re focused, it’s possible.”