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Gildan’s 2010-2015 Environmental Goals and Achievements
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Over the years, Gildan has evolved into a very different kind of apparel company. Our fundamental belief, and a core part of our DNA, is that owning the factories where our products are manufactured is the best way to make apparel better. As our company has grown to become one of the world’s largest manufacturers of basic apparel and socks, we have maintained that focus and produce in excess of 95% of everything we sell in our own factories.
Our vertical integration model, controlling almost every phase of the manufacturing process, spans from our choice of USA Cotton to the assembly of the final products, has permitted us to leverage investments in technology, innovation and sustainable solutions across the entire value chain of our products. Our capital investments of approximately $1.7B in the last 10 years in combination with our attention to the smallest of detail has allowed us to achieve some impressive results, as communicated in our 2015 Genuine Responsibility® report (www.genuinegildan.com)*
Some of Gildan’s environmental initiatives during this period include:
In Central America and the Caribbean Basin most manufacturing sites are powered by fossil fuels, particularly bunker oil. Gildan has now transitioned the majority of its steam generation plants from fossil fuels to BIOmass steam generation in Central America and in the Caribbean Basin.
In the Dominican Republic, the system substitutes fossil fuel with BIOmass such as agricultural residues and selected packaging and production leftovers. In Honduras, the burning biomass consists of a variety of agroforestry residues, mainly African Palm, cultivated crops harvested
from agricultural energy plantations and non-fossil industrial residues from Gildan’s production processes.
The energy from plantation-grown BIOmass is considered a carbon neutral process; therefore, it does not contribute to global warming and climate change. The dedicated energy crops plantations provide numerous and diversified jobs in urban and rural areas, reducing migration flow to the cities. BIOmass crops combustion generates less ash than coal with the advantage that the generated ash can be used as organic soil fertilizer. BIOmass crops contain very low levels of sulfur.
BIOmass crops are a local source of fuel, independent of fluctuating oil prices. Their use in developing countries greatly reduces economic pressures resulting from oil derivatives and increases the country’s energy autonomy. BIOmass is a reliable, long-term fuel supply. The use of BIOmass also supports the development of agro-industries for the production of renewable and clean energy.
Gildan’s current condensate return rates at all of its textile and hosiery facilities in Central America and the Caribbean Basin are close to 90%, and close to 70% at its Bangladesh integrated facility, which translates into substantial conservation of both energy and water. Condensate is the liquid resulting after steam energy has been used in a heat transfer process. Condensate is warm water containing chemical additives that can be reused to produce steam, at just one-third of the cost of generating steam from fresh water and new chemicals.
Much of the energy consumed in our processes is used to heat the water used in the fabric dyeing process. Several heat recuperation systems have been incorporated into the condensate return loop, boiler’s surface and bottom purges – used to clean solids accumulations. By using these heat recovery systems, we are able to pre-heat water and have it available when required by our different processes, thus reducing the amount of steam needed to reach the process temperature. This way, Gildan reduces its energy consumption costs and engages in effective water conservation.
Other energy saving initatives:
Hot water recovery and lint filtration: Gildan deploys hot water heat recovery systems with lint filtration at all of our textile facilities. This project resulted in over 15,700,000 kwh annual savings. In addition, this process which filters the lint by using water, also allowed us to reduce 6,171,452 m3 of water over a one year period. Furthermore, the lint recuperated by the filtration system resulted in a reduction of up to 70% of all the solid material contained in the wastewater sent to the Biotop lagoons for treatment. This helps in improving the Biotop’s efficiency in cleaning our facilities’ effluents.
Exhaust heat recovery units: These units have been installed at the top of each dryer at one of our hosiery facilities in Honduras. The captured heat is then recirculated back into the dryers, thus saving energy and reducing dry times, which improves throughput. Overall, with this measure alone we have generated energy savings, ranging from 10% – 45% within our facilities.
Installation of skylights: Skylights have been installed at our three textile facilities in Honduras to improve the lighting of the facilities with natural light. We also upgraded the lights at one of our textile facilities in Honduras which has been put on photo cells control, reducing the time that lighting is turned on. We expect this upgrade to generate approximately 2,400,000 kwh in annual energy savings.
Water is consumed extensively in our dyeing process. For this reason, we are continually devising ways to minimize our water use and enhance the quality of our wastewater effluent. In addition, we continually aim to recycle the most amount of water possible throughout the various stages of our manufacturing processes. We are continuously researching new ways to further to enable water recycling.
Replacement of our jet dyeing machines at our latest refurbished textile facility (Rio Nance 1) has been another major contributor to our water reduction project. Gildan is continuing to explore brine recovery systems, which are expected to achieve a 400 m3/day reduction in water consumption.
Gildan has a strong interest and responsibility in reducing our water consumption and ensuring that we use chemicals that do not contain substances that are harmful to humans or the environment. We are continually devising ways to minimize our water use and enhance the quality of our wastewater effluent as well as aiming to recycle more water throughout the various stages of our manufacturing processes. In addition, we are continuing to research new technologies designed to enable water recycling.
The Gildan BIOtop System
The BIOtop, located in our Honduran and Dominican Republic facilities, is our highly efficient bio-organic wastewater treatment system. The BIOtop system has been in use since these facilities’ inception.
The purpose of the system is to treat wastewater through a series of interconnected lagoons. The lagoons naturally stabilize the wastewater’s pH. Gildan’s BIOtop wastewater treatment process has yielded excellent results while maintaining an extremely rich ecosystem beside our production facilities. Gildan does not discharge water into any protected rivers and/or wetlands.
Some of the important advantages of Gildan’s Biotop over traditional chemical-based treatment systems include:
* Bacteria virtually eliminates dyes and chemicals
* No additional chemicals are introduced into the system
* Virtually no incremental energy is required to process the effluent
* No harm is done to the aquatic life in the receiving river and its ecosystem. In fact, several species of birds and fish have been spotted in the lagoons area
* The system does not consume fossil fuels
* The 40-day retention time in the system protects against sudden changes in production or accidental spills of dangerous liquids in the production process
* Water entering the local ecosystem is free of all contaminants and is continuously monitored for compliance with local requirements
* The clean water is then released into a drainage channel that flows into the nearest river
Wastewater sent for treatment to the BIOtop is monitored in accordance with the following indicators: biological oxygen demand (BOD5); chemical oxygen demand (COD); pH; total dissolved solids (TDS); total suspended solid (TSS); oxygen; oil and grease; temperature; coliform bacteria; colour; nitrogen Kjeldahl; nitrogen ammonia; phosphorus; detergents; phenols; sulfide; and heavy metals.
Strict controls are enforced on all the effluents discharged from our wastewater treatment plants. Each treatment facility is required to meet local discharge regulations.
During the 2010-2015 period, we achieved the following results:
*89% of our total waste was recycled or repurposed in 2015, reducing by 19% the waste sent to landfills against a 2010 baseline
* 51% of the Company’s energy needs are now met through renewable resources, such as the use of biomass in the Company’s steam generation plants.
* 34% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per kg of production since 2010, largely achieved through the use of biomass. Currently,
* 14% reduction of energy per kg of production achieved through the installation of high efficiency steam absorption chillers which run on steam produced by the Company’s biomass steam generation expansion.
* 17% decrease in water per kg of production, which translates into savings of approximately 3.85 million cubic meters of water or the equivalent of over 1,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools, when compared to 2010. These savings were primarily achieved through investments in modern jet dyeing machines.
BIOtop system to treat wastewater through a series of interconnected lagoons that stabilize the wastewater’s pH and fosters a rich ecosystem beside our production facilities.