Sustainability defines future and textiles make up one of the foremost industries to embrace this in its aggressive form, for it figures as one of the top 10 highly polluting industries in the world.
The home textile giant, Welspun Group, has made its mission to put sustainability in the thread of its textiles, so that till the end of their life, they keep delivering value to the customer while remaining eco- and society-friendly. The company aspires to create long term value through embracing sustainability practices. These include taking up several initiatives including water and emission management, and achieving energy efficiency creating a positive impact on the society.
B K Goenka, Chairman – Welspun Group says: “Welspun Group has been recognized by ET Futurescape as one of the leaders in sustainability making it the only textile company that is ranked in the top 100.”
Responsible & Sustainable
The company believes in sustainable value chain and hence has collaborated with suppliers who align with the thought process. As a result, it has achieved lower transportation cost, reduced inventory, faster working capital cycle and successful recycling of packaging material and has been posting improved social and environmental performance.
Welspun insists on its vendors to be assessed on a regular basis with regards to their social and environmental performances. It emphasizes on technology through data analytics and Vendor Managed Inventory Support so that its focus remains trained on enhancing product differentiation. Hence, Welspun’s integrated systems helps in manage its supply chain and providing real-time information to customers, enhancing its pro-retail approach.
Enabling Circular Economy
Welspun’s sustainability roadmap comprises of obtaining raw materials through sustainable sources. The company obtains cotton grown both organically and using Better Cotton Initiatives (BCI) – both of which have positive impacts on society and environment. In 2019-20, the company documented sourcing 42% of the cotton it needed from sustainable sources.
The company has also upcycled fabric waste, which otherwise would end up in landfills, into designer products generating employment and promoting arts and crafts in the local areas. The company has been using recycled PET in polyester based rugs, fibres as well as fabrics that use textile waste from production promoting a circular economy.
Dipali Goenka, Managing Director – Welspun Group shares: “We are inserting sustainability and circularity in every link of the value chain as part of Welspun’s transformation. We are striving to become the benchmark and a global leader in the use of ESG framework and compliance to sustainable practices.”
Supporting Positive Farming
Welspun has initiated contract farming wherein the company engages with farmers to grow BCI as well as organic cotton. This would help reduce the use of harmful pesticides and enable water conservation. Methods like alternate furrow irrigation and drip irrigation systems are encouraged rather than using water intensive techniques.
Multi-crop farming is being promoted as a risk mitigation measure for farmers. They are also supported by making loans accessible from banks and facilitating subsidies from the government. In collaboration with Wadhwani Artificial Intelligence (AI), Welspun has implemented a mobile app-based AI solution for early pest detection and annihilation to prevent crop losses.
Welspun is also using Source Trace application for complete farm extension management wherein the Farm Extension Staff capture data of the farmer and his cotton farming related activities throughout the growing season in real time. This will further help the farmers with supply chain linkages.
Sustainable Product Lifecycle
Sustainability is woven into every aspect of product lifecycle at Welspun – from procurement of sustainable raw material, manufacturing of product, transportation of raw materials and finished goods, to end-consumer use. With this approach the company aims to reduce environmental impacts and lower its carbon footprint not only during production but also during the consumer use phase.
The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is carried out for all its products including towels, bedsheets, rugs and TOB, to help identify additional opportunities to reduce environmental impact across the value chain. Based on the insights from such assessment, the company aligns product design and innovation towards reducing environmental impacts from cradle to grave.
Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 ensure that Welspun textile products are manufactured in a responsible way, right from the harvesting of raw materials to manufacturing processes.
Resource efficiency is integrated into its products and process design. It is a critical component in the usage of chemicals in operations. Welspun has aligned its chemical procurement based on the requirements on Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC).
Harnessing Natural Resources
As part of its plan to cut down freshwater intake so that it is available more for surrounding communities, Welspun’s factories undertake recycling and reusing of wastewater. To this purpose, the company has set up a 30MLD Sewage Treatment plant at its Anjar factory and has resulted in zero intake of freshwater for manufacturing processes. Further, the company also executes rainwater harvesting at its factories.
The company’s energy management practices are targeted to improve energy efficiency through process and equipment modification, energy conservation and by introducing new technology. Its waste management practices include recycling of textile waste, recycling of PET bottles as well as kitchen waste and horticulture waste.
Welspun is rapidly moving towards sustainable packaging and hence is reducing the use of PVC and replacing it with recycled and recyclable material, which in near future may include bio-based and compostable packaging.