Hirdaramani going ‘green’
Garment manufacturer Hirdaramani says it is building a ‘green’ factory this year and is also gradually making all of the group’s existing factories more environmentally friendly.
The Hirdaramani Group’s first ‘green’ factory, which is an investment of around US$ 5 million, will be called C K T Apparel Pvt Ltd and will be located in Agalawatte, in the Kalutara district. “We will start construction of the factory towards the end of June. The factory will be ready for commercial operations by April 2008,” said Arjuna Kuruppu, the CEO of the Hirdaramani Group’s Knit Cluster.
It is probably the second garment factory in Sri Lanka to go ‘green’ after MAS Holdings said last month that it had been chosen by UK retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) to build an iconic "Green Plant" in the MAS Fabric Park (Thulhiriya). The latest new green garment factory is expected to create nearly 1,200 new jobs in the Kalutara district while expanding Hirdaramani’s garment output by about 35,000 dozens of clothing items per month.
The new facility will supply knit clothing for men, women and children, for major clothing brands like Marks & Spencer, Columbia, Nike, Eddie Bauer, Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Ralph Lauren.
To ensure green manufacturing standards in the design of the new factory, Hirdaramani is planning on getting LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the factory from the US Green Building Council.
“We are planning on getting the factory LEED certified. No other factory in Sri Lanka has got this certification so far. We are now in consultation with the LEED certified engineer for South Asia about the factory design,” said Kuruppu.
The company says the focus on going green is due to increasing concerns about environmental impacts from industries, particularly global warming. Consumers in the west, that are the final users of clothing
made in countries like Sri Lanka, are becoming more aware of environmental impacts from industries and as a result companies are feeling the pressure to be more environmentally conscious in their manufacturing.
“Foreign buyers are now more interested in buying from environmentally friendly manufacturers. Buyers from the US for instance are very interested in sourcing from green factories because today there are a lot of problems due to pollution and issues like global warming. So this is going to be the new standard,” said Kuruppu.
Keeping with the principals of minimising environmental impacts, the factory will incorporate a number of measures to reduce energy consumption and water usage. The cuts in energy use are also expected to directly benefit the company by reducing electricity bills. Energy costs are around 3% to 4% of total operating costs of garment factories and through a number of conservation measures Hirdaramani is hoping to cut energy costs by about 40% at the new factory compared to a conventional factory.
The company says these energy conservation measures will reduce the carbon footprint by a substantial amount.
“Among other things, we will use sky lighting on the roof to tap solar energy instead of using lights to operate during the day time. So our use of electricity will be for machinery only. We will not use air conditioning but instead we will use an evaporation cooling system using water vapour. The cost savings will be one fourth the cost of electricity for A/Cs. This will have less strain on the national grid as well. We will reduce water consumption by biologically treating and re-using water for sewage conveyance and will also use rainwater harvesting methods to get water for factory use,” said Kuruppu.
The Hirdaramani Group’s other factories will also be made more environmentally friendly over the coming years, starting with reduced energy consumption.
“The new green factory will be the benchmark. We will gradually convert all our factories here and overseas into green standards. We have already started energy saving measures in some of these factories,” said Kuruppu.
The Hirdaramani Group owns eight garment factories and leases another eight to manufacture clothing in Sri Lanka. In addition the group has embroidery, printing, and washing plants and a product development centre.
The Hirdaramani Group also operates one garment factory in Vietnam, two in Bangladesh and one in India, some of which are joint ventures. The group provides direct employment to around 12,500 people in its garment factories in Sri Lanka alone.