Heading towards being the most sustainable fabric manufacturer in the world
Jeans are a perennial favorite that are worn everywhere and always but are controversial from an environmental point of view simply because of their cotton requirements. The denim industry consumes 35% of the cotton produced every year. It takes 10,000 liters of water to produce one kilogram of cotton.
What’s more, chemicals and pesticides also need to be factored in for achieving a rich harvest. Additional environmental burdens arise in the manufacturing processes required until the jeans are finished, especially during dyeing.
In recent years, the ecological consequences of this have resulted in consumers and manufacturers alike having a rethink./1/
As a company showing great ecological and social commitment, Saitex has made an international name for itself in the denim industry.
The manufacturer produces jeans articles of all kinds and is currently working on vertical integration. Due to the extension of the existing ready-made clothing and laundry sections by an own fabric factory with spinning, weaving, dyeing and fabric finishing departments, the value creation of the Saitex Group is to be transformed into a circular economy.
When it comes to indigo dyeing, Saitex ordered a PRODYE-R from KARL MAYER. This technology for rope dyeing is the first machine that was delivered for the Asian region outside China. The following installation work was running at full speed in autumn 2020.
Respect for others and nature – a matter of the heart
When Saitex opened in Vietnam in 2001, the denim industry already had a reputation for harming people and the planet. Sanjeev Bahl, President of Saitex international, wanted to change this substantially and thus followed his inner voice.
Nowadays, the company employs more than 3,000 people and operates at five sites in an industrial area in Dong Nai Province, Vietnam. All plants are equipped with the machine and process technology that meets the highest sustainability standards. The aim is to achieve a closed-loop circulation of all resources and produce clothing with a traceable, minimal ecological footprint.
In the energy sector, for example, the manufacturer has largely eliminated fossil fuels. The production relies on air-drying processes and energy generated from steam which is produced by burning biomass.
“Besides striving to become one of the most sustainable fabric manufacturers in the world, we surely also need the most capable team and the most beneficial working environment to be able to continuously increase our success. The same aim we have as well in choosing the offers with the best equipment available in regards of quality and efficiency. To reach production excellence, we decided to invest in KARL MAYER’s weaving warp preparation equipment: in a Ball Warper, a Rope Dyeing unit and a Sizing machine”
More “green” energy is planned to come from a 3 MW solar power plant that is just being built. Moreover, Saitex has a water circulation rate of 98%, and uses only 1.5 liters of water per pair of jeans instead of 80 liters, as is common in the industry. The company also owns the only Blue-Sign certified denim laundry in the world. To also reuse its products as resources, Saitex – together with a partner – is currently developing a downcycling process for manufacturing furniture, walls and floors from textile waste.
For the upcycling of fabrics and clothing in designer fashion, the Rekut brand was created as part of a social project. This initiative aims to pave the way for people with disabilities or a problematic background to gain equal professional opportunities and social respect.
Saitex has been awarded B Corporation certifications for its environmental and social commitment. The denim specialist is the world’s only major company in its sector and the only manufacturer in Asia with this label. Moreover, Saitex is Fairtrade certified-and its plans are far from over.
Vertical integration for sustainable product life cycle
By building its factory for fabric production, Saitex expands the corporate strategy of recycling to the beginning of the value chain. The ultramodern factory with a capacity of two million meters of fabric per month is currently being built also in Dong Nai Vietnam, just 40 minutes from the previous production site. Completion is planned for the first quarter of 2021.
When all work is finished, the new factory will also use energy from a 3 MW solar power plant, water will be led through a closed circuit and steam will be produced from biomass and 40% sewage sludge in compliance with emission standards. The use of sewage sludge for energy production also leads to less landfill volume.
For the manufacture of its fabrics, Saitex will only use cotton from farms that use sustainable cultivation methods or recycled fibers. The company will also carry out the indigo reduction in-house. By using electrochemical instead of chemical processes, the use of permanently harmful chemicals can be avoided and energy consumption can be reduced by using the latest production technology Around 40% of the new factory’s external surface will be used for agriculture, to grow fresh food for the employees.
Furthermore, Saitex strives for LEED Gold Certification. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a green building classification program.
PRODYE-R for a new factory
To meet Saitex’s high ecological standards in dyeing, too, the management opted to use rope dyeing technology that lowers the consumption of resources as much as possible. After a detailed negotiation phase, the company invested in a KARL MAYER PRODYE-R this year. The rope processing machine combines the processes of producing ball warps, dyeing and sizing.
It operates with just eight dyeing units to produce deep, pure shades with a dye application of up to 5.5% of the yarn weight. Thanks to the short wet zone, up to 25% less bath volume is required compared to conventional counterparts. Furthermore, when changing the ball, the unusable warp length remaining in the machine can be reduced by 20%.
Overall, the machine uses less energy, less water, and fewer chemicals. Water consumption can be reduced by roughly 30%. The programmable cans, into which the dyed ropes are precisely laid, also make the long-chain beaming process more efficient.
“Besides striving to become one of the most sustainable fabric manufacturers in the world, we surely also need the most capable team and the most beneficial working environment to be able to continuously increase our success. The same aim we have as well in choosing the offers with the best equipment available in regards of quality and efficiency. To reach production excellence, we decided to invest in KARL MAYER’s weaving warp preparation equipment: in a Ball Warper, a Rope Dyeing unit and a Sizing machine”, says Florian Stretz, Saitex CFO.
In particular, the outstanding machine technology for rope dyeing makes a big difference when striving to be a world-class denim fabric factory.