Photo from the STWI closing workshop in Shanghai last week

Elin Larsson: “Start saving water and you will see the return of investment in an instant”

Sustainability Director Elin Larsson shares insights from Filippa K’s recent work to ensure more sustainable water management–and reveals how rewarding the efforts have been so far.

Plants, animals and humans need water to survive, and to secure water resources is one of the most pressing issues under climate change. Polluted rivers, disappearing animal and plant species–and an alarming scarcity of fresh water–testify to the need for action in solving the water crisis.

The textile industry uses large amounts of energy, chemicals and not the least, water. The global average water footprint of cotton fabric is 10,000 litres per kilogram (see the Water footprint network’s calculations for different products). And that number only considers the growing of cotton. Then we dye the fabric or the products using water in the process, and unfortunately several dyeing mills are not purifying the effluent water enough and we end up with polluted rivers.
Water also affects the two other major resources used in our industry – energy and chemicals. If we decrease the use of water in our processes, it will decrease the need for energy and chemicals.

This is why it is crucial for us to work on how we can decrease the water use in our production. Since 2010, Filippa K plays an active part in a water initiative called Sweden Textile Water Initiative (STWI). STWI is a joint project between a number of textile and leather retail companies, working together to ensure a more sustainable water consumption within the textile industry. What’s rewarding to see is that STWI has evolved over time, from being a project helping the buyers in Sweden to a more sustainable water management mainly through manuals, to a platform for mutual exchange of knowledge resulting in projects with practical outcomes.

Filippa K is also part of a STWI project where almost all of our Chinese suppliers for dyeing and finishing participate. What is amazing in this project is the realization that once you start saving water, energy and chemicals, you also start saving money. All participating suppliers can see the return of investment when putting resources into water saving initiatives, meaning the initiatives are not only good for the environment but also for business.

« It is rewarding to see how knowledge and change spread like ripples in water »

At Filippa K, we are proud to be on this journey together with the cooperating suppliers, brands, scientists, experts, authorities and organizations from all parts of the world. It is rewarding to see how knowledge and change spread like ripples in water, helping to push through the necessary changes.

This is a quote from Christina Muljadi, our Product manager for Soft Sport and Sustainability coordinator for water and chemicals, from when she returned from the STWI closing workshop for 2016 in Shanghai.

“People from the world of textile collaborate with a positive approach and willingness and together we have achieved results beyond our imagination. The owners of the dyeing mills were so proud when they presented the changes towards a more sustainable textile production achieved during the past year. I could see the proudness when the awards for Best Performance in different categories were presented, and of course an audience of 150 people burst into cheers. As a representative for Filippa K, I was grateful to be part of such a big change knowing that in 2016 we have jointly contributed to save water enough to cover the yearly need of 2,000 people.”

To ensure long-term sustainable success in our water practices, we need to have a holistic perspective on what we do. We need to understand how all the parts interact and affect each other and ensure that our value chains are sustainable in the long run. We do this for our future business, our planet, our people and our future generations.

Christina Muljadi from Filippa K is given a hug at the STWI closing workshop in Shanghai last week

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