Sustainability & digital transformation: A journey of talks or walks!

Sustainability & digital transformation: A journey of talks or walks!

Indian textile industry needs to take a bigger pie from the global market. Industry 4.0 & sustainability are a prerequisite & so new technology advancements are the need of the hour, says Avinash Mayekar.

Committing towards Sustainability!

Is the only constant trending phenomenon across the manufacturing sector, to state the obvious, buzzing on top of the chart box these days is the Pandemic & its crisis management. Of course, the buzz is well justified as the pandemic has not only given a nudge to the economy but it has shaken up the world pretty hard, people all around are literally in the dilemma of strategizing for either managing, thriving, or just surviving. Well, the topic of sustainability is quite different it has been the major headline for conferences & seminars even in pre covid era. There are talks on the need for immediate implementation for quite years now. To be honest for a very long period there have only been talks on this topic & the practice of implementation lacked to grab the larger pie. It is, however, the early covid period and the current state of the world that has seen the much-needed action for sustainability across the various value chain of textiles. It has finely grabbed the needed momentum. The crisis has somehow been the catalyst for channeling the textile industry towards sustainability.

The anchor however was set long back & actions were being taken by the brand towards the sustainable practices. Organic textiles were the foundation towards sustainability however it saw a very little momentum as far as adoption by the consumers was concerned. Organic textiles somehow lost the fight when it came to the majority of consumer’s age-old fight of choosing pocket-friendly items.

However, this pandemic has bought limelight to the sensitive issue and fast-tracked mandates adoption by the brands which no longer limits sustainability to organic textiles. It is a 360o act from accountable sourcing, to responsible production, pledged to ethical human right practices, the commitment for recycling & the giving back to the community.

Let us have a look at the main elements of these 360-degree sustainability practices and how by rooting this practice into actions today one can have a better future not just for its own business but for the generations to come.

1. Accountable Sourcing:
The ban of Xinjiang cotton of China has awakened the world around not just for stopping the imports of this particular variety of cotton. But it has set a much-needed mandate to show accountability by manufacturers across the value chain. It has introduced the need for raw materials traceability across the finished product. By doing this it has equally bifurcated the responsibility mantel across the entire value chain.

We all know key Account customer practice for better Management has already channeled the manufacturers to develop few trustworthy suppliers & collaborate for betterment. A further traceability angle to the raw material sourcing right from check on fiber suppliers/farmers up to the finished garment producer along with the checks on using responsible ancillary supplies like appropriate dyes & chemicals is what will truly see the accountable sourcing being practiced.

It is not a mere step in selecting an organic farming option but a step to ensure that responsible practices are being practiced at all walks of productions. The aim of reducing the carbon footprint not just in one’s own manufacturing unit but seeing to it that the selected suppliers are practicing the same. This small act thereby enforces the value chain to bring the accountable sourcing into actual practice. It is not an overnight job but starts with the small step like being accountable for the product source. A need to thrive good quality for the best price is slightly elevated to selecting good quality from a compliant producer for the best price. Collaboration in supply chain management is the right way to reduce carbon footprints in logistics & transportation.

2. Responsible Production:
Shifting to sustainable practices is not an overnight job. There are lot many changes that will have to be adopted starting from making changes in the age-old technologies to age-old material handling practices, to educating the workforce by providing training and awareness about sustainable practices. Additionally, apart from changing the machinery & working habits, there are many limitations on the use of dyes & chemicals thereby increasing the overall manufacturing cost of the product.

The zero liquid discharge to eco-friendly finishes is all the first in the many steps towards responsible production. Though government mandates have already accelerated the adoption of effluent treatment plants or zero liquid discharge. The later focus of developing the state of art facility for responsible production not only supports the need for adopting sustainability but in the long run will also aid in reducing the power cost thereby improving the cost margins. Enhancing productivity & adopting better technologies that consume less power & less water is the first step in selecting a balanced investment plan for new technology. JIT (Just in time) adoption for raw material sourcing to the enactment of ERP & cloud computing is one of the many ways that will ensure that the investment in machine technology & industry 4.0 digital interface will be profitable & also a step towards sustainability.

Synergy with Industry 4.0 is the easiest way for sustainability adoption. It will provide following benefits

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