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Swedish water project wins Nordic fashion industry sustainability award

A collaboration for efficiency in water consumption, energy and chemical use in the textile industry won the prestigious 2015 Habit Fashion Award for Sustainability on Wednesday, November 5 in Stockholm, Sweden. Sustainable Water Resources (SWAR) is a joint initiative between Stockholm International Water Institute, Sida, Swedish fashion brands Indiska, KappAhl and Lindex, their Indian suppliers and sub-suppliers. SWAR was honoured by the Habit jury for its impact in increasing efficient water, energy and chemical use at factory level.

SIWI Executive Director, Torgny Holmgren. Photo credit: theguradian.co.uk

SIWI Executive Director, Torgny Holmgren. Photo credit: theguradian.co.uk

“SWAR piloted in 2013 in densely-populated north-western India where the groundwater situation is dire. Basin levels continue to drop at an alarming rate, and pollution continues to stagnate human development in the region. We are proud that SWAR was recognised by Habit for directly increasing the efficiency of water, energy and chemical use in textile production in a systematic, cost-efficient, and sustainable way.’’ Said Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director, SIWI.

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SWAR factories saved 7 per cent of their total annual water use, 360 million litres. This amount equals the daily need of more than 3.5 million people. Through its parent network, Sweden Textile Water Initiative (STWI), the pilot programme has now scaled up across India and in China, Bangladesh, Turkey, and Ethiopia, expanding its impact to 120 factories supplying 20 major Swedish brands.

“Water and Energy are the most important resources for our business. Therefore our biggest driver to join SWAR was water and energy conservation. Apart from this, the cultural change in the factory, resulting from SWAR also helped us to continue our water and energy conservation activities,” Said Mr. Anuj Batra of Bee K Bee Prints, one of the factories participating in the programme.

“SWAR has enabled us to over-perform on almost all social, environmental and business metrics that we identified at the project start. In addition, it provided clear evidence and data through exact measurements of water consumption meters, project implementation sheets for each implemented projects, and testimonials provided by the factories. This kind of accurate intelligence is often very hard to secure when working across industry borders,” said Indiska, Lindex and KappAhl jointly.

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The SWAR initiative puts the value of water at the heart of resource efficiency and sustainable development solutions. The approach combines achieving measurable results with building capacities and empowering people at brand headquarters, factory, and institutional levels. It is a market-driven approach that creates demand for sustainable water use in production, based on real risk mitigation, and supplies management solutions to meet that demand.

“We are honoured to be awarded this significant prize and hope that sharing our success story can inspire others to enter into similar collaborations. The cooperation between Sida, SIWI and KappAhl, Lindex and Indiska achieved substantial results in both water and chemical savings and was a winning formula within itself,” says Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Director General of Sida.

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SWAR is a capacity building and technical support programme for 42 suppliers and sub-suppliers to Swedish brands Indiska, KappAhl and Lindex in India (Delhi NCR and Rajasthan). The STWI brings together Swedish leather and textile companies in collaboration with the specific aim of reducing water, energy and chemical use in their supply chains. SIWI provides and promotes water wise solutions for sustainable development, while performing research, builds institutional capacity and provides advisory services. The Habit Fashion Awards are organised by the leading Scandinavian fashion trade journal Habit Sko & Mode. The Awards are in their ninth year and in 2015 the Sustainability Award was introduced for the first time.

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