Water use and management present one of the biggest risks to global development according to the World Economic Forum. In the apparel industry, water is a highly complex issue, with large quantities used everywhere from cultivating raw materials to consumers laundering their garments. Water is also used during the dyeing, tanning, printing and finishing stages of garment production. We aim to safeguard water resources in our sourcing countries to ensure continuity and quality of water supply for our business and the communities where we source.
We are in the midst of developing a global water strategy informed by a water risk analysis in our operations and supply chain, as well as the findings of a PVH dress shirt life-cycle analysis and our engagement with suppliers, academic experts, non-profit partners and multi-stakeholder initiatives like the SAC and ZDHC. As we strengthen our water efforts and develop broader environmental guidelines for suppliers, we are learning from the environmental progress of our Tommy Hilfiger business, which has led progress in this area.
Tommy Hilfiger’s water stewardship program has three key tenets: collective action with stakeholders in high risk areas, improving key factories’ water practices and cutting the water impact of products. Tommy Hilfiger partners with WWF on water stewardship projects in the Taihu and Mekong river basins and with the Better Cotton Initiative, which supports cotton farmers in reducing their water use.
Tommy Hilfiger Europe also conducted a denim finishing pilot to help suppliers measure and improve chemical, energy and water use. Additionally, through participation in the Better Mills Initiative, a Tommy Hilfiger supplier in China has improved its knowledge of sustainable techniques, saving approximately 40,000 tons of water in less than 18 months.
The build-out of PVH’s global water strategy in 2016 will allow us to increasingly improve transparency on water issues in our supply chain, including via a level 2 supplier mapping exercise.
Importantly, we will also start to plan water reduction initiatives, including in Ethiopia, where we commissioned an independent analysis of the potential impact on local water supplies of an industrial park in Hawassa where we plan on having production. We are partnering to build a zero liquid discharge effluent treatment facility that recycles wastewater produced in the park, and looking to support collective action water stewardship projects in the surrounding communities.
River basins impact a number of different stakeholders, all of whom rely on local water resources. The ability of our factories and local communities to access water depends on the behavior of everyone in the area, so it is vital that we work collectively to safeguard shared water supply. In 2015, Tommy Hilfiger partnered with the WWF to engage with stakeholders in two river basins where we have suppliers facing water risks. These are the Taihu Basin (part of the Yangtze River) in China and the Mekong, which covers Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. By collaborating with our suppliers, local businesses, universities and non-profits, we aim to build an understanding of water risks, promote responsible water stewardship and develop common solutions.
"With our water stewardship programs, we help our suppliers understand the risks we all face from scarcity and pollution. In high impact areas, we collaborate with suppliers, governments, other businesses and local communities. I strongly believe this will help safeguard our production for years to come."
Manager, Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Responsibility