Sri Lanka's apparel industry is believed to be on the threshold of becoming a leader in eco-friendly manufacture on the global stage, and one industry leader today pledged to spend US$ 25 million (Rs 2.7 billion) over the next four years to place the country on the world map as a location for environmental best practice.
Speaking at inauguration of the country's first converted Green Factory, Brandix CEO Ashroff Omar said Sri Lanka is already ahead of many of its competitors in the region in eco-friendly manufacture, and has gained international recognition as a major location for ethical manufacturing."Over the next four years, the Brandix Group plans to invest 25 million dollars, more than 2.7 billion rupees, on environmental initiatives. There can be no better demonstration of our commitment to eco-friendly manufacture," Mr. Omar said. "We are confident about the future prospects for Sri Lanka's apparel industry."
Reflecting the importance of the event was the presence at the inauguration of Sir Stuart Rose, Chief Executive, Marks & Spencer, and senior government ministers Professor G. L. Peiris and Dr Sarath Amunugama.
In his address, Sir Stuart said: "We are delighted to supportthe 'eco-factory' developed by Brandix, which will produce great quality clothing for M&S customers back in the UK. Not only has it reduced its carbon footprint since its renovation, it has also reduced its energy usage, uses less water and no longer sends waste to landfill. It will also continue to produce great quality clothing - what our customers would expect from M&S."
The 130,000 square-foot Brandix Casualwear factory at Seeduwa is the Group's lead manufacturing plant for Marks & Spencer (M&S) and its conversion at a cost of US $ 2.5 million into a 'Green' plant, has resulted in a reduction of carbon emissions by 75 per cent, an energy saving of 45 per cent and a reduction of water consumption of nearly 60 per cent.
"We are confident about the future prospects for Sri Lanka's apparel industry."
Ashroff Omar, CEO
The 30 year old factory has been re-designed to surpass all Green factory standards stipulated for energy consumption, water conservation, solid waste management and carbon emissions by the 'Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design' (LEED) Green Building Rating System of the US Green Building Council (USGBC). It will support Marks & Spencer's 'Plan A' initiative to encourage suppliers around the world to make their supply chains carbon neutral through Green manufacturing processes.
In his welcome address at the ceremonial opening of the converted plant, Mr. Omar said: "When Marks & Spencer launched its Plan A initiative last year, many of the Brandix Group's manufacturing operations were in sync with its objectives. Eco-friendly manufacture had already become a priority for us and we were committed to a five year eco plan that would see the Brandix Group reduce its carbon footprint by 35 per cent by 2012."
"The Plan A programme galvanised us to bring all our environmental initiatives together under a more focused, integrated and target-oriented master plan."
Paying tribute to Sir Stuart Rose, Mr. Omar said: "While Al Gore is considered the prophet of climate change, Sir Stuart is probably the world's most potent warrior saving the environment."
Referring to the future prospects for Sri Lanka's apparel industry, he said: "We know that competition will grow exponentially over the next few years, and that only the exceptionally strong and the exceptionally adaptable will survive. We also know that eco-friendly manufacturing is the way of the future, and we are confident that we are ahead of many of our competitors in the region in this area."
Recalling that Sri Lanka has been environmentally responsible for more than 2500 years, Mr. Omar pointed out that the ancient kings of Sri Lanka had built thousands of reservoirs for rain water harvesting, flood protection, irrigation and domestic needs. Many of these majestic reservoirs are still in use today. "This is a tradition that we can be proud of," he said, adding that as a business group, Brandix has from its inception been environment conscious. "Some of our manufacturing plants are located in the very areas that were once ruled by the ancient kings. Our workers come from a culture whose existence has historically been closely linked to the land and man-made water resources. We have found this ethos to be both inspiring and socially and economically sensible," Mr. Omar said.Brandix pioneered the concept of total solutions in the Sri Lankan apparel industry and is Sri Lanka's largest apparel exporter with a consolidated annual turnover of over US$320 million (2006-07). The winner of two Presidential Export Awards and the recipient of the prestigious international Green Apple award for environmental best practice, the Group is also strongly focused on CSR initiatives that primarily involve water. In addition, the Group has integrated Clean Technology, Waste Management, Energy Management and Environmental Conservation into its operations on the basis of a strong belief that sustainable industrial development can drive its ultimate goal of being a completely green business concern.