Sri Lanka’s apparel sector focuses on ESG following economic crisis

December 4, 2023

Sri Lanka’s apparel industry body Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) reveals a number of its apparel companies are doubling down on ESG-focused innovation.

AAF says apparel manufacturing plants in its North and East region are forging what it describes as a “new blueprint for scalable sustainable apparel manufacturing that may prove to be of global relevance”.

It says MAS Kreeda Vaanavil, MAS Intimates Vidiyal, Hirdaramani Apparel Vavuniya, Omega Line Vavuniya, Brandix Batticaloa, and Eskimo Fashion Knitwear (Pvt) Ltd have each taken the lead with integrating sustainable best practices and institute lean manufacturing principles.

The organisation adds that their success has lead to increased employment, innovation and most importantly sustainable growth following the country’s economic crisis.

Sri Lanka’s sustainable manufacturing initiatives
JAAF explains Hirdaramani Apparel Vavuniya has incorporated green building standards into its design and construction phases. Its commitment extends to treating and reusing 100% of wastewater from the production process and using rooftop solar installations.

Similarly, Omega Line Vavuniya has embraced a “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” approach, achieving resource consumption reductions across all material inputs. With plans to transition to 100% renewable energy for production by 2030, it is aligning with Sri Lanka’s renewable energy targets to make 80% of its energy requirements from renewable energy sources by 2030.

MAS is targeting a 25.2% absolute reduction in emissions through its Plan for Change, which outlines 12 sustainable commitments.

Eskimo Fashion Knitwear (Pvt) Ltd is incorporating energy-efficient equipment, in-house solar, water management strategies, waste reduction programmes, eco-friendly materials, and fair labour practices into its operations.

Brandix Batticaloa is also said to be setting an example by adopting low-energy consumption technologies, recycling discarded materials, and implementing efficient wastewater management. The company’s initiatives also aim to empower women and support local communities are making a significant impact.

JAAF points out these companies are not only transforming their operations in Sri Lanka but also fostering a culture of sustainability within their communities. The organisations collaborate with local businesses for beach clean-ups, ocean conservation, skill development, vocational training, and economic relief initiatives. It explains that by embracing community feedback and insights, they continuously refine their circular production systems towards zero-waste goals.

Global recognition and future prospects
The efforts of these companies have garnered global recognition. Notably, Brandix’s Batticaloa plant is the world’s first manufacturing facility to achieve Net-Zero Carbon status. The combined LEED certifications, ISO 14001 certifications for Environmental Management Systems, and GOTS certifications further reinforce the company’s commitment to sustainability.

JAAF says the success of these initiatives is attributed in part to the European Union’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) scheme, which has provided a boost to Sri Lanka’s exports by allowing it to import items to the EU market.

As the current scheme concludes in 2023, JAAF adds that Sri Lanka’s intention to reapply for the upcoming scheme in 2024 underscores its dedication to sustainable growth.

JAAFA suggests its apparel companies are demonstrating that the country’s sustainable growth goes beyond compliance – it encompasses holistic approaches that benefit both the industry and the communities it operates in.

It goes on to say that by focusing on green practices, growth, and community development, these organisations are setting a model that aligns with international standards and addresses the fashion industry’s growing sustainability concerns.