A Decade of Doing Right by Our Planet – The ReEarth Story

by ABFRLadmin | April 22, 2024

As we mark Earth Day, we look back at the Journey of ReEarth and look forward to the sustainable future we’re creating at ABFRL.

The fashion world is in constant flux, where trends, colors and styles change daily. For the past decade, however, our focus has remained steadfast on a different kind of ‘change’– one driven not by the whims of the runway, but by a deep-seated commitment to our responsibility. We’re talking about our ReEarth initiative, launched in 2013, that has embedded itself into the very DNA of our company culture over the past decade.

It’s been an odyssey filled with challenges and triumphs. We’ve confronted some of the fashion industry’s most pressing environmental issues head-on, from tackling mountains of waste to minimizing our water footprint. The results have been promising and inspiring. We’ve pioneered sustainable packaging solutions, achieved zero waste to landfill status, and even become water neutral – all while ensuring our creations remain stylish and ethically produced.

ReEarth is more than just a list of achievements and awards. It’s a story of innovation, collaboration, and a relentless pursuit of a greener future. It’s about empowering our teams to think outside the box, to find creative solutions that marry style with sustainability. It’s about fostering a sense of responsibility throughout our supply chain, ensuring every step of our product’s life cycle aligns with our eco-conscious values.

So, buckle up! Over this read, we’re inviting you to join us on a journey to explore ABFRL’s top 10 ReEarth Milestones…

Milestone 1: Renewed Energy

We hear it everywhere – the alarming rate of biodiversity loss, the suffocating grip of pollution, and the ever-dwindling resources of our planet. At ABFRL, we understand the gravity of these challenges. Climate change is a looming threat, and we’re determined to be a part of the solution, not the problem.

That’s why we’re steering our operations towards a greener future, fueled by renewable energy (RE) sources backed by cutting-edge technology. We’ve completely revamped our energy consumption habits, integrating innovative mechanisms like solar rooftops, biomass-based briquettes, and solar-powered streetlights around our facilities. This multi-pronged approach seizes opportunities to cut down consumption through all possible means. We’re constantly pushing the boundaries with new tech, exploring innovative RE technologies like hybrid systems that combine solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and wind turbines to meet our needs.

This goes beyond just implementing the latest technology. We’re also focusing on optimizing our energy consumption at every level. We’ve replaced internal and external lighting with energy-efficient LEDs and other equipment, and even incorporated green building concepts into the design of our new facilities and stores. The results speak for themselves: a staggering more than 2,000-tonne reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and a whopping 68% increase in our reliance on our own facilities on RE sources. It’s a significant step forward for us all on the ReEarth trail.

Milestone 2: Green Buildings

We’re building green from the ground up! The Green Building ethos is a cornerstone of our environmental efforts. We prioritize resource efficiency throughout a building’s life cycle, from design and construction to operation. This not only benefits the environment, but also our employees and business.

Our commitment is reflected in six facilities certified under green building rating systems, encompassing existing buildings and new construction projects. Last year, five existing facilities (over 9 lakh square feet) are undergoing recertification, and four new projects (3.65 lakh square feet) are in the green building certification process. This is our blueprint for a sustainable future, one where every brick we lay paves the way for a greener tomorrow.

Milestone 3: Water Optimization

Our dedication goes beyond energy and buildings – it’s about respecting the very essence of life: water. Although our operations are minimally water-intensive, we’re constantly innovating to do better. Our two-pronged approach focuses on reducing freshwater dependence and replenishing existing sources.

We view water as our lifeblood. Rainwater harvesting, meticulous sewage treatment, and wastewater recycling have earned us recognition as a Water Positive Organisation. This achievement was earned with sustained effort; it’s the result of dedicated stewardship under ReEarth’s water mission. We’ve implemented water-efficient technologies like smart meters and rainwater storage, achieving a remarkable 68% wastewater recycling rate and 53% reliance on renewable water sources (including 104,878 kiloliters of harvested rainwater) by FY 2022-23.

Technology is key. We’re integrating IoT and cloud services for real-time water management. Responsible wastewater management is also crucial to our strategy. We adhere to ABG’s standards, treating wastewater on-site and ensuring 100% compliance with regulations for safe disposal.

Our water practices are a testament to a sustainable future. We’re not just minimizing our impact; we’re actively replenishing resources and setting a new standard for water conservation in the fashion industry.

Milestone 4: Circular Economy

Our Circularity approach dismantles the wasteful “take-make-dispose” model fast fashion is used to, instead prioritizing resource efficiency and minimizing waste. Imagine a closed-loop system where products have a longer lifespan, materials are recycled or regenerated, and production methods have minimal environmental impact. That’s the ABFRL circular economy in action.

We’re constantly searching for solutions to minimize our environmental footprint throughout a product’s lifecycle. Our two-pronged approach focuses on reducing overall waste and establishing end-to-end traceability.

We design with minimal waste in mind – by prioritizing durable, repairable, and recyclable materials. We’re also creating a closed-loop system where waste becomes a resource. Any non-hazardous waste generated in our facilities is recycled, reused, or even composted for agricultural use. Hazardous waste is meticulously disposed of following strict guidelines to ensure it never reaches landfills.

Transparency is paramount. We conduct rigorous waste traceability assessments to verify the safe disposal of waste at every stage. This ensures compliance with regulations and allows us to hold ourselves accountable for our sustainability goals. It’s about setting a new standard for responsible resource management in the fashion industry, one where waste becomes an opportunity and sustainability becomes the norm.

Milestone 5: Product Sustainability

The Proof is in the Fabric!

We’ve achieved impressive results through our commitment to sustainable materials. Recycled cotton options like PULCRA have significantly reduced water usage in the dyeing process, leading to a smaller carbon footprint across our product lines. By FY 2024, a staggering 70.3% of ABFRL products (by volume) boast at least one sustainability attribute, a testament to our dedication to eco-conscious fashion.

Beyond Materials: Ethical Production and Sustainable Practices

Fair treatment of workers throughout our supply chain is paramount. We implement ethical labor practices, ensuring everyone involved in creating our garments is treated with respect.

Sustainable practices are woven into the very fabric of our production processes. Eco-friendly laser drying eliminates hazardous chemicals and manual labor, reducing our environmental impact. We also prioritize sustainable packaging, utilizing recycled and compostable materials to minimize waste.

Measuring Sustainability: Transparency and Continuous Improvement

A comprehensive “Product Sustainability Attribute” guideline ensures our products meet specific environmental and social criteria. We don’t just set goals; we measure them. These attributes are evaluated bi-annually, and the results are communicated through a specialized dashboard. This transparency allows individual brands to track their progress, identify areas for improvement, and refine their sustainability efforts.

Sustainable Innovation in Action:

Here are some examples of our commitment in action:

  • Van Heusen Move Labs Collection: These garments are crafted with ultra-stretchy, lightweight fabrics made for comfort and movement, perfect for the modern professional.
  • Louis Philippe Green Crest Denims: Made with recycled cotton and featuring an eco-friendly laser drying process, these denims prioritize both style and sustainability. Recycled materials are used throughout, from trims to packaging.

Beyond Products: Sustainable Practices

Our commitment goes beyond the garments themselves. Initiatives like Pantaloons’ “Carton Box Reuse Programme” diverts used boxes from landfills, promoting resource conservation and responsible waste management. In FY 24 alone, Pantaloons warehouses successfully reused over 600,000 carton boxes, a significant reduction in waste and a prime example of our dedication to a circular economy.

Milestone 6: Sustainable Packaging

Packaging plays a crucial role in protecting garments during transit, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of the environment. That’s why ABFRL is a leader in sustainable packaging solutions.

We’re committed to eliminating plastic from our packaging entirely by 2025. This ambitious goal is underpinned by a comprehensive approach that considers:

  • Sustainable Materials: We prioritize eco-friendly options like recycled paper and bio-degradable materials.
  • Design Optimization: We’re constantly optimizing packaging design to minimize material usage without compromising product protection.
  • Reduction and Recycling: We actively reduce unnecessary packaging and ensure responsible recycling of what’s used.

Our dedication is paying off. Since 2013, we’ve been diligently monitoring and reducing our packaging footprint. By the end of FY23, we’d achieved a remarkable 91.5% sustainable packaging rate – a significant milestone on our journey to a plastic-free future.

Milestone 7: CSR Efforts

We believe that true progress means giving back and empowering communities. That’s why we invest in social initiatives that make a real difference.

Through a strategic approach, we design and implement effective CSR programs with achievable targets, focusing on the following key areas:

  • Empowering Education: We establish academic support centers, train teachers, provide financial aid, and offer special programs for girls and dropouts, all aimed at boosting educational opportunities.
  • Enhancing Wellbeing: We organize health camps focused on yoga, eye care, dentistry, and even cancer awareness. Additionally, we support water sustainability through rainwater harvesting, well recharge, and water purification initiatives.
  • Building Livelihoods: Equipping individuals with the skills they need to thrive is crucial. We establish skill training centers, support self-help groups, and empower people with disabilities through income-generating activities.
  • Bridging the Digital Divide: We bridge the gap by creating village information centers and smart classrooms, providing access to essential services like e-health, e-education, e-banking, and e-employment.

In 2022-23, our newly implemented employee volunteering policy motivated an impressive 4,464 ABFRL employees to contribute towards community development. 

This collective effort signifies our dedication to social progress and aligns perfectly with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Milestone 8: Digitalization

Weaving Technology into Sustainability through Digitalization has become a powerful tool for driving our sustainability progress. By leveraging technology, we can:

  • Empower Smarter Decisions: Data is king. Digitalization allows for efficient data collection, storage, and retrieval. This translates to timely monitoring of sustainability initiatives, enabling data-driven decision making for maximum impact.
  • Enhance Transparency and Accuracy: Our “ReEarth Portal” is a prime example. This IT platform automates sustainability data collection, ensuring precise and informative disclosures. This translates to greater transparency and improved future planning.
  • Fuel Better Insights: Transforming data into actionable insights is crucial. We’re actively working on integrating sustainability data into user-friendly dashboards, empowering informed decision-making at all levels.
  • Embrace Predictive Power: This year, we took a significant leap forward with advanced analytics. We’re harnessing data to create predictive models for energy and emissions across our facilities. This allows us to forecast the impact of manufacturing processes and proactively drive progress towards our 2025 SDG goals.

Safety Through Technology

The safety of our people is paramount. We’ve implemented a comprehensive safety system built on a foundation of clear procedures and documentation. To further enhance safety measures, we’re digitizing essential forms, creating a one-stop application for easy access and streamlined processes.

Milestone 9: Decarbonization

Climate change is a pressing issue, and ABFRL is committed to being part of the solution. Our multi-stage decarbonization strategy tackles greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) across our entire value chain. We’re guided by the 3 key elements of the Net-Zero Standard:

  1. Comprehensive Scope: We meticulously account for all GHG emissions, setting science-based targets for near-term reduction.
  2. Achieving Carbon Neutrality: Complete elimination of Scope 1 (direct emissions) and Scope 2 (indirect emissions from purchased energy) emissions is our goal.
  3. Setting Near-Term Net-Zero Targets: Our ambition doesn’t stop at Scope 1 and 2. We’re committed to achieving net-zero across all Scopes (including indirect emissions from our value chain), neutralizing any remaining emissions.

Our “ReEarth Programme” has been the cornerstone of our emissions reduction efforts since its inception. Across our operations, we’ve implemented various initiatives to mitigate Scope 1 and 2 emissions. We’ve also established a baseline for Scope 3 emissions following the GHG protocol, identifying relevant categories and methodologies for future reduction strategies.

This comprehensive approach, combined with a focus on improving energy efficiency and optimizing our fuel and energy mix, will pave the way for a carbon-neutral future.

Milestone 10: Supply Chain Sustainability

It’s not just enough for us to shoulder the responsibility of sustainability, we must also consider ways in which our position as an industry leader can change this landscape. To cascade the positive impact of our ReEarth Programme across the supply chain, we work together with our suppliers to raise sustainability standards and new benchmarks in the industry.

We also conduct comprehensive sustainability assessments of our suppliers, considering their environmental impact, social responsibility, and ethical practices. Through these assessments, we identify areas for improvement and work with our suppliers to develop action plans.

To evaluate our suppliers’ ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) performance, we have developed an internal assessment framework called the ‘Supplier Sustainability Index’ (SSI). This Index assigns a score out of 100, on benchmarks of Quality, Social and Environmental goals.

The total SSI score is classified into four ratings: Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. This hybrid model incorporates global standards and self-assessment questionnaires to assess our critical and high-impact Tier-1 and Tier-2 suppliers across all businesses.

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