The Textile Industry Leaps Forward with Clean by Design

Less Environmental Impact with Bigger Profits

NRDC launched its Clean by Design initiative in 2009 as an innovative "green supply chain" program to leverage the purchasing power of multinational corporations to reduce the environmental impacts of factories in their suppliers abroad. Working with a number of prominent global apparel retailers and brands, we have focused this program first in the textile industry in China, notorious for its energy and water intensity and pollution load.

In late 2013, NRDC launched the effort to bring the successful Clean by Design program to scale. Financially, the program exceeded expectations, delivering $14.73 million dollars (92 million RMB) to the participating mills in total reduced operating costs. Mills invested $17.3 million in total one-time upfront costs to achieve these savings, with a payback time for the whole program of only 14 months.

  • Water savings averaged 9 percent, with the top five mills reducing water consumption by more than 20 percent.
  • Energy reduction averaged 6 percent, with the top five mills reducing energy consumption more than 10 percent.
  • Electricity reduction averaged 4 percent, with the top five mills reducing their electricity by more than 6.5 percent.