Certifications to prove sustainability are being demanded by the buyers

Certifications to prove sustainability are being demanded by the buyers

Digitalisation and sustainability are two of the most powerful market influences in today’s business landscape. The digitalisation-sustainability convergence in business and society offers both opportunities and challenges, within the organisation and across organisational boundaries. Companies are using digital tools to map their environmental footprint and assess the impact of environmental shifts on their business. New digital technologies are improving sustainable innovation. Ravi Sam, Chairman, SIMA, highlights the steps taken by the association to address the industry needs to Divya Shetty.

What is the significance of sustainability in the textile industry, and what initiatives is SIMA taking to support it?
India is competing with other countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam, etc. for becoming world’s largest manufacturing hub. The deteriorating global environment has put the theme of sustainability at centre stage in every industry, including textiles. Globally there is a big demand for products made by firms employing sustainability driven practices. Hence, sustainability is no more a option, but it is an imperative. The need of the hour is for textile industry to adopt sustainable measures that do not harm the environment, sustainability is not just a measure to protect the environment, but also a way to drive innovations in the industry. Sustainability innovations can also give rise to new products that can transform the sector at large.

Smriti Zubin Irani, Former Union Minister for Textiles, launched Project SU.RE, a move towards sustainable fashion, at Lakmé Fashion Winter/Festive 2019, in Mumbai on 22nd August, 2019. The SU.RE project is a commitment by India’s apparel industry to set a sustainable pathway for the Indian fashion industry. SU.RE stands for ‘Sustainable Resolution’ – a firm commitment from the industry to move towards fashion that contributes to a clean environment.

We, The Southern India Mills’ Association (SIMA) being a part of the Sustainability Working Group constituted by the Government of India, the initiatives at the global and national level are communicated to the manufacturing members, in turn, the difficulties in implementation of the measures at the ground level is highlighted before the departmental authorities, thus paving way for identifying modalities to implement the various features of ‘Sustainability’ in real sense.

Indian textile industry is also playing a major role in promoting sustainability and SIMA has been emphasising the same through the following initiatives:Encouraging Board members and business leaders to focus on sustainability and drive executionImparting knowledge to strategically plan and develop products or services that produce sustainable outcomesMarketing products and services that evoke sustainable choices from consumersEducating employees about sustainability to include them in the processEncourage to install solar power plants to bring down the carbon footprintEncourage to set up effluent treatment plants to reduce industrial water contamination and reclaim the water for favourable purposes.Communicating through written advisory about sustainabilityConducting workshop to understand individual benefit derived and the world in general.Advisory to adopt measures to treat textile effluents using Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) technology and marine discharge technologyMaximum usage of renewable energy thereby supporting carbon emission controlRainwater harvestingImprove digitisation and mechanisation to eradicate child/forced labour

How is SIMA ensuring that it follows the circularity trend?
Certifications to prove sustainability and circularity are being demanded by the buyers (Obtaining the certification strengthens the marketing base of the Indian manufacturers, a core compliance parameter to attract foreign buyers) and the Government is also in the course of legally enforcing the same.

Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), is a climate (change) action plan of United Nations to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts. Each Party to the Paris Agreement is required to establish an NDC and update it every five years, of which India is a party.

The Association is undertaking several initiatives to promote the dialogues and uptake of Circular Apparel and Textile practices especially through identifying relevant policy interventions. The policy recommendations are being identified based on innovations and prevailing practices and through inputs from key and relevant stakeholders in the Apparel & Textile sector.

Automation and digitalisation are another hot topic in our industry; could you please elaborate on how SIMA has used these to improve work quality?
The trends of digitalisation and automation will together change the industry- the goal of every entrepreneur. In the coming years, automation and digitisation will play a very important role in the global textile industry. The current skilled workforce available is not sufficient to take care of the existing/developing needs. Accordingly, skill development needs to be upgraded across the industry. With technology getting upgraded rapidly the industry needs to be geared up with people who can easily adopt to the technology modifications.

To bridge the gap, the Association has been imparting various skill development programs of both Centre as well as State Governments for the benefit of textile industry. SIMA was one of the implementing agencies for undertaking training under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (2016-2020) to train trainees for Southern States namely Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana & Kerala during April 2019. So far 1300 candidates have been successfully enrolled in the PMKVY (2016-2020) and the mills have directly derived benefit out of the same.

The Association was selected as one of the implementing agency by Tamil Nadu Skill Development Corporation to give certification for experienced workers in Textile Sector under TNSDC RPL programme. In first phase we have completed RPL program for around 5000 workers.

SIMA, one of the implementing agencies was assigned to train 4500 workers in Garment Sector under Samarth Scheme by the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. The Scheme for Capacity Building in the Textile Sector (SAMARTH-SCBTS) is meant for the entire value chain of textiles except spinning and weaving sub-sectors. We have also been an implementing partner under the Integrated Skill Development Scheme, “Samarth”- SCBTS-Scheme for Capacity Building in Textile Sector and Tamil Nadu Skill Development Corporation (TNSDC)-Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

Further, SIMA has a dedicated “Industrial Engineering Division” catering to the needs of the members and non-members, to identify and advise on the ways and means to enhance the skill of the workers and consequently increase the productivity of the textile manufacturing mill.

What are the future plans of SIMA for the textile industry?
We, The Southern India Mills’ Association, act as a bridge between the Industry and the Policy Making Bodies of both Central and State Governments. Our objective is to take up the difficulties faced by the industry before the appropriate forums. The mode of support to be expected from the Government is submitted with appropriate facts and figures.

To overcome the obstacles faced by the industry, India’s textile and clothing sector needs to make several modifications and apply some new practices to increase competitiveness. One of the implementations to boost production includes a greater emphasis on technological upgrades and expansion of capacity. The following are the essential prerequisite strategies that are required to achieve $ 100 billion export target by 2030.Stronger focus on the US market for apparels. The Indian home textile sector was the biggest gainer in volume terms in the US market in the first 10 months of this year. Efforts should be made to repeat the success of Indian apparel. Regional Foreign Trade Agreements to be reworked, in line with the current developments, an area which the Central Government is keenly focussed. A level playing field with our top three competitors in the US market in terms of duty. Product diversification and innovation in the MMF (man-made fibre) space and build scale to attract global buyers. To focus on technology adoption and digitisation with Industry 4.0 strategies, development of an agile mindset and focus on discipline in credit cycles.

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