How Gap Saved 10 Billion Liters of Water in its Manufacturing Process

Editorial TeamEditorial Team
September 27th, 2022
4:09 PM

More than 70 of the company's strategic suppliers have participated in Gap's water and energy programmes.

Did you know that it takes 2,700 litres of water to make a single cotton T-shirt? That is the equivalent amount of water a person drinks in three years. In addition to this abundant use of the natural resource, there’s also the high level of pollution that this sector leaves its mark on the planet's rivers and seas. In order for all this to change, many apparel brands are committing themselves to the search for technologies and product innovations that allow them to offer clothes that look good, but that reduces the impact on people and the environment. That's why American apparel and accessories brand Gap decided to set up two significant water saving initiatives: Water Quality and Washwell TM.  

  As part of World Environment Day, Gap Inc celebrated reaching its 2020 sustainable manufacturing goal of saving 10 billion litres of water globally. The target, set in 2018, was achieved through sustainable product design and technical innovation and was met ahead of the year-end schedule in part due to efficiencies achieved in close collaboration with the company's strategic sourcing suppliers. Equivalent to more than 153 million showers, these water savings are part of Gap Inc.'s ongoing efforts to address water scarcity issues facing communities around the world where the company operates. In addition to responsible sourcing, Gap also sources its organic cotton certified by the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, as well as using Supima cotton.   How Gap Has Encouraged Change in the Supply Chain Gap also has a presence in Costa Rica through Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy shops. A key factor in achieving this goal is Gap Inc.'s collaboration with its suppliers. More than 70 of the company's strategic suppliers have participated in water and energy programmes, such as steam recovery and dye bath water reuse administered by the Apparel Impact Institute, Clean by Design in China, Race to the Top in Vietnam, cKinetics in India and other expert organisations. The company also encourages its suppliers to also conduct Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) operations, enabling 95%+ water use in their operations. More than 90% of Gap Inc. suppliers have completed the Higg Index Facility Coalition's Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) Environmental Module (FEM) assessment.  

  Partnerships that Create Benefits Last year, Gap Inc. and its sourcing partner, Arvind Limited, invested in a water treatment facility that eliminated the use of fresh water at Arvind's denim factory in Ahmedabad, India. The facility saves more than 1.7 billion litres of water per year to preserve the vital freshwater resources of the local community. The project is particularly impressive as the mill and treatment facilities are located in a region suffering from severe drought. In addition, the two companies will open an innovation centre later this year in India to promote the garment industry's adoption of proven techniques and technology that reduce water use in textile manufacturing.   Water Quality For jeans to be blue, they have to be dyed and washed one by one. This programme was designed to ensure that the brand's denim is manufactured in a way that protects local waterways and minimises the impact on the environment. So before the water used in the washing process leaves the factory, it is treated to remove any manufacturing waste to reduce its impact. Washwell This programme is a water-saving method of washing and since 2016 the brand has saved more than 289 million litres of water.