in the making of a white cotton t-shirt when compared to the industry average
to treat wastewater through the Biotop system
Water is a big part of apparel industry, starting from the cotton fibres at the start of the process, through to the dyeing and finishing in the textile phase and finally with washing and drying in the consumer use phase.
From 2010-2015, we invested in systems and technology that allowed us to reduce our water usage intensity by 17%, saving the equivalent of 1500 olympic swimming pools in the process. In the past 2 years, we have further reduced our water usage intensity by 10%, having achieved our 2020 goal early.
We remain focused on pursuing more ways to improve our water usage and will continue to pursue new technology and enhanced natural chemistry to make our processes more water efficient.
The Biotop, located in our Honduran and Dominican Republic manufacturing hubs, is our innovative biological wastewater treatment system. The natural system treats wastewater through a series of interconnected lagoons that contain bacteria which virtually eliminates all dyes and chemicals and uses no incremental energy to process the water. Over a thirty day cycle, water flows through the system where a variety of bacteria, microorganisms, fish and wildlife coexist to naturally return clean water, ready to sustain life, to the environment. The water that re-enters the local ecosystem is continuously monitored for compliance with local requirements. Our BioTop system in Honduras is also home to more than 20 crocodiles, fish and several species of native birds.
In the past two years, we introduced a filtering system within the BioTop process to capture the fibre lint within the effluent, which is then repurposed as a fuel stock within our BioMass steam generation systems.
For effluent that contains specific properties, such as antimicrobial treatments, we alternatively treat the wastewater using biological reactors which work in tandem with the BioTop system to guarantee a continuous and safe wastewater treatment system. This biological oxidation system eliminates all contaminants and returns clean water to the environment
Cotton is the primary fibre used in our products, representing more than two-thirds of our total fibre inputs. Our Company has selected to primarily purchase U.S. cotton because of its high quality and strong environmental sustainability and social responsibility practices. Sustainably grown and ethically-harvested U.S. cotton remains the optimal choice for our products.
Regulated as a food crop under strict U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines, cotton grown in the US represents the best combination of quality and value for our products. Under the guidance of the National Cotton Council, the USDA and various other organisations, US farmers have continuously reduced their environmental footprint by adopting a variety of conservation and targeted agricultural practices.
Close to 70% of the cotton acreage where the Company’s cotton is grown is irrigated only using naturally occurring rainwater. Conservation agriculture practices and advanced soil monitoring systems have reduced soil erosion and residual impacts on the environment. GPS positioning and advanced delivery systems allow farmers to be more efficient while planting, fertilizing and harvesting, effectively allowing for a reduction in GHG emissions and environmental impacts on the land and neighbouring ecosystems.
US cotton farmers are required to adhere to strict US labour laws and Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulations which are likely the most stringent in the global cotton industry.
As a matter of principle, we require all our business partners to confirm, by means of a signed statement, that they do not use or procure any cotton fibre originating from Uzbekistan. In 2013, we established a cotton traceability assessment for our cotton yarn suppliers in order to ensure that yarns supplied did not contain cotton originating from Uzbekistan. As such, we feel confident in stating that there is a low risk of cotton originating from Uzbekistan in any our products.