Water reuse Industrial Water Membranes Asia

Arvind and Gap: sustainable water practices in the apparel industry

Tuesday, 26 March 2024

Indian conglomerate Arvind is working with US-based clothing company Gap to make water practices in the textile and apparel industry more sustainable.

A water management innovation centre for the clothing industry

Indian conglomerate Arvind is working with US-based clothing company Gap to ensure water management practices in the textile and apparel industry become more sustainable. 

The companies are working together to develop and test processes at Arvind’s Santej unit, near Ahmedabad. The site features a number of different components that work together to improve water management practices, including water re-use and training programmes, R&D labs and collaborative working environments.

Called the Global Water Innovation Centre for Action (GWICA), the site spans 18,000 square feet and is constructed from sustainable materials. It is designed to be a collaborative space for key stakeholders in the manufacturing of textiles, such as apparel companies, suppliers, vendors, sustainability experts, academics and environmental stakeholders.


Showcasing innovations

The centre provides number of services:

Repository of knowledge: GWICA acts as an open-source repository, housing both physical and digital knowledge products focused on water management in apparel manufacturing. It collaborates with external experts to curate materials, ensuring a continuous flow of expertise and insights.

Training initiatives: Education is central to GWICA’s mission, offering comprehensive training programmes for operator-level staff in textile factories. Annual water management training modules, available both in-person and online, to industry professionals with tools for sustainable water practices.

R&D lab and incubation: The lab will be a ‘launching pad’ for piloting and incubating six ‘innovative water solutions’ that aim to improve sustainable water management practices in the apparel sector.

Showcasing innovations: Expanding on the knowledge repository and its training programmes, GWICA offers tours of Arvind’s installations, giving innovators and start-ups a chance to experience the technical solutions being used on site.

Collaborative spaces: A meeting place for suppliers, brands, industry and other stakeholders.

Manufacturing clothes using reclaimed water

Speaking to the press, Punit Lalbhai, vice chairman and executive director of Arvind, said: “This centre has a state-of-the-art laboratory that will allow testing of all waste-water streams from anywhere in the world, or any part of our supply chain, to be analysed and prescriptions given, for improvement.

“The testing will be a separate profit centre that will help finance some activities of GWICA. Gap and Arvind are laying only the first brick. This centre is for everyone. We will publicise the engagement model as this evolves,” Lalbhai added.

Arvind isn’t just a manufacturing company; it boasts interests in other sectors such as real estate, engineering and environmental solutions. Arvind Evisol sits within the wider group and offers services globally that include water and wastewater treatment, desalination and Zero Liquid Discharge.

Since 2019, Arvind’s Naroda denim processing unit has been using Membrane Bio Reactor (MBR) technology to treat and process its wastewater and reuse it in the manufacturing process. In an area suffering from water scarcity challenges, this means fresh water is only used for human consumption.

GWICA is also looking at ways to foster collective action among stakeholders to develop more resilient water ecosystems among communities involved in the clothing industry.

Apparel industry has a collective responsibility to action sustainability change

Water is a key component of Arvind’s sustainability strategy. All of its major manufacturing facilities are equipped with Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) systems, which the company says led leading to a 93 per cent reduction in wastewater discharge since being introduced.

Talking to local press, Punit Lalbhai, vice chairman and executive director of Arvind, emphasised the company’s commitment to transformative change in the apparel manufacturing industry: “From the launch of the pioneering GWICA centre to the success of our Sewage Water Treatment Plant, we are committed to a transformative path in the apparel manufacturing industry.”

Gap has a long partnership with Arvind. The company aims achieve water-resilience across its ‘value chain’ by 2050. As part of its water stewardship goal, the company aims to ‘support water resilience in regions touched by our value chain by improving access to clean water and sanitation, reducing water use in manufacturing and company operations, and supporting watershed health to create a positive impact in nature and communities’.

Its president and CEO, Richard Dickson believes the GWICA facilities, by combining expertise and resources, will help toward “building a more water-resilient future” for the industry and the communities in which they operate.

Manufacturing clothing - water intensive

Textile and apparel processing is water-intensive process and creates wastewater that contains trace metals, dyes, chemicals and fibres. 

Major brands have been putting plans in place to tackle water issues. In 2020, premium denim brand Wrangler declared its intention to reduce its water consumption by 50 per cent by 2030. While Levis planned to cut its water use in half by 2050.

The dyeing process alone can use an estimated 200 litres of water to produce 1 kilogramme of textile. The chemicals, if released back into the water eco-system, can ‘block the sunlight and increase biological oxygen demand, inhibiting photosynthesis and re-oxygenation processes’. 

   Related content


Share your water technology stories with us
Do you have an innovation, research results or an other interesting topic you would like to share with the international water technology industry? The Aquatech website and social media channels are a great platform to showcase your stories!

Please contact our Sr Brand Marketing Manager Annelie Koomen.

Are you an Aquatech exhibitor?
Make sure you add your latest press releases to your Company Profile in the Exhibitor Portal for free exposure.