Anvil Knitwear, which won an award for its first corporate responsibility report, has followed up with a refreshingly candid update that declares, "We've got some good news and some bad news …"
That's how Anvil opens its 2011 CSR Progress Report, an accounting of the 2010 fiscal year in which production rose 36 percent, pushing up greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent and prompting the company to reframe its environmental goals.
"We are shifting from absolute metrics to intensity reporting per T-shirt produced," said President and CEO Anthony Corsano in the CEO's statement for the report. "We've reset our goals and will continue to work toward ensuring that all of our products are made more sustainably."
Here's the company's rationale for the change:
"[W]e set a goal of reducing emissions by 10% by the end of fiscal 2010," the progress report said. "Unfortunately, we were not able to meet that goal. That's the bad news. The good news is we understand why. We see that as good news because understanding the cause is the first step in addressing the problem.
"For one, our emissions and the baseline for our emissions goals moving forward were calculated relative to our performance in 2008 and 2009, two years in which our production levels were hit hard by the economic downturn. To more accurately determine our emissions goals we should have based them on years that saw more normalized production levels, like 2010."
The increase in production during 2010 also saw a change in the company's product mix -- more dyed and colored T-shirts were made than basic white ones. Making non-white shirts uses requires more energy and water, and production of more shirts regardless of color leads to a greater use of materials.
Consequently, Anvil's use of energy, water, yarn, dyes and chemicals rose, although the increases were not as great as they might have been. Conservation and efficiency efforts reined in consumption. As a result, the resource intensity of products -- the amount of water, steam and energy used per pound of finished fabric -- decreased, even though the overall use of resources did not.
Here's a look at some of the key numbers from the progress report:
• Use of Bunker C oil climbed 64 percent. Bunker C oil, Anvil's principal source of direct energy, powers the boilers that produce steam for dyeing and finishing fabric at the company's textile plant in Honduras.
• Use of natural gas rose by 28 percent. Natural gas is used to generate steam in Anvil's North Carolina garment dye factory and to heat the firm's distribution center in South Carolina.
• Use of electricity rose 8 percent. Electricity is the primary source of indirect energy and is used to power the company's seven facilities. However, the firm's use of biomass as an alternative fuel increased by 10 percent, which enabled Anvil to avoid using 60,460 gallons of oil.
• Overall water use for production increased. Use of ground water rose 34 percent and use of municipal water supplies increased 42 percent.
• However, efficiency and conservation efforts enabled the firm to avoiding using millions of gallons of water.
- Improvements of manufacturing techniques at the Honduras textile plant enabled the firm to reduce the processes' water intensity -- the ratio of gallons of water used per pound of fabric produced. Without the improvements, the plant would have used 10 percent more water during 2010. Instead, the Honduras facility avoided using an estimated 60 million gallons of water, the report said. Based on those figures, the company says it exceeded its goal of reducing water consumption by 5 percent by the end of 2010.
- Improving the pre-treatment chemicals for dyeing and the way fabric is prepped for dyeing enabled the North Carolina facility to reduce the water intensity of its operation as well. The report estimated that the dye factory avoided using 3.35 million gallons of water due to the changes.
• Water footprint was measured for the first time. The company learned that agriculture -- growth of the cotton used to make Anvil T-shirts -- accounts for the greatest part of the products' water impacts. So in addition to improving conservation and efficiency efforts in manufacturing, the company plans to devise a sustainability scorecard that will include water impacts in the supply chain.
• Emissions from transportation of goods rose 80 percent, another result of increased production.
• Commuting via bus and motorbike increased by 16 percent as the company's workforce grew with increased production.
• Waste sent to landfill dropped 25 percent, surpassing the company's goals to reduce waste by 5 percent by the end of 2010.
• Recycling rose by 48 percent.
Here are the new goals set by the progress report:
- Energy -- Reduce energy used per unit produced by 20 percent by 2020.
- Water -- Reduce water used per unit produced by 20 percent by 2020.
- Landfill --- Achieve a zero-to-landfill waste stream by fiscal year 2020.
- Green Manufacturing -- Adopt the Anvil Sustainable Manufacturing program at all facilities by 2013.
Images courtesy of Anvil Knitwear Inc.