In a new series of articles called Disruptive Solutions, we will be documenting innovative ideas, products and services that are changing and challenging the textile industry for the better.
With the largest textile industry in the world -- both in terms of production and exportation -- China is famous for its production of cotton and silk. If the country's textiles were once synonymous with lower quality products and less than ideal work practices, today the textile industry in China is being redesigned by suppliers concerned with transparency and sustainability. Profits Fund Global Holding Limited (PFGHL) is one of the players disrupting the clichés around textile production in China and helping reshape the Chinese textile industry.
A supplier with factories in China and Hong Kong, PFGHL is fully committed to delivering large-scale production whilst ensuring good conditions for workers, a better outcome for the planet, and, of course, high-quality fabrics. They focus on fabric development, garment manufacturing, dyeing, and other supporting services without compromises to the environment or the safety of their workers.
Organic and Sustainable Silk
One of their groundbreaking projects is called BOMBYX (inspired on the silkworm's Latin name: bombyx mori), that brings new technologies and equipment added to environmental protection for organic mulberry cultivation and silkworm rearing. This self-constructed, organic and eco-friendly base for sericulture includes a very complex plan for agricultural integration with organic livestock, fruits and vegetables, medicinal herbs, and organic fertiliser production in 67 hectares. The estimative is that the base will be able to produce 600 tons of fresh cocoons every year. Before implementing any changes on their farms, they run a test garden for different growing conditions to learn more at a small scale.
BOMBYX: an organic and eco-friendly 67 hectares base for sericulture that includes plans for agricultural integration with organic livestock, fruits and vegetables, medicinal herbs, and organic fertiliser production.Credit: courtesy of PFGHL.
BOMBYX is a sustainable, vertical manufacturing project based in Yilong, a county under Nanchong, in the Chinese Sichuan area, completely traceable from raw material production to garment production and workforce. Not only it creates a better initiative for the environment but also for the locals, since it provides job opportunities for farmers and improves the economy of the region as well. They also have classes and workshops to teach the villagers more about sustainable farming.
The clean and organic fabric is preferred by ethical and transparent fashion brands like Everlane, from the US, that entirely relaunched their collection with sustainable silk. PFGHL's Bluesign-approved dyehouse was another key information for the brand to choose them, as their sustainable silk is less chemically intensive than the average one, making it safer for workers, people that wear the pieces, and the environment as it prevents pollution and contamination.
Social Sustainability for Workers
The move to the Sichuan area is a strategic decision by PFGHL that aims to cut costs and improves the lives of its factory workers once one of the manufacturing buildings is also based in the region. By keeping the silkworm farms physically close to the factories, the company manages to reduce costs and carbon emissions, keeping a high-quality product that doesn't necessarily have an abusive price tag.
By moving the production of sustainable silk to the Sichuan area, it also brings it closer to one of the manufacturing facilities. Many workers were already from the area and can now spend more time with their families and less time commuting. Credit: courtesy of PFGHL.
They also noticed that many of their workers at factories on the coastal line of China were actually natives from the Sichuan region, where Nanchong is located. By moving the factory there, they allow their employees (almost 1,000 just in that factory) to stay close to their families and their culture, spending less time (and money) commuting -- which also decreases overall carbon emissions. It's a profitable move for the company since the area has a lower labour cost and the proximity encourages longevity of staff as well, which in turn allows the company to share its profits with the employees. The transparency of PFGHL in sharing those reasons is a brave move to demystify working conditions in the Chinese textile industry, adding value to their product for both fashion buyers and final consumers.
PFGHL locations along coastal China. The move from Suzhou to Nanchong, in the Sichuan province, was a strategic decision to stay closer to workers and promote the area development as well. Credit: courtesy of PFGHL.
On their trip to the Nanchong Factory, the Everlane buying team reported on their website to be impressed with the onsite cafeteria ("[they] blew us away with the food they prepared for our lunch there") and the outdoor recreation equipment which includes exercise machines and a basketball court.
Technology to Sustainable Innovation
PFGHL's commitment to sustainability goes beyond the production of organic silk or organic cotton. Their factories are implemented with technology to optimise non-renewable energy consumption, avoid waste, and improve the working conditions for their staff.
There are LED Dome lights with sensors that detect natural light and dim accordingly, saving energy and providing the staff with natural sunlight. They have sewing machines with disengaging gears when they are not in use, which saves up to 50% more energy and E-Flow by Jeanologia, a machine that sustainably allows transferring chemicals onto garments made of any fabric using nanobubbles instead of water as a carrier (which means no water is wasted and no chemicals are put back in nature). In fact, this technology implies zero discharge, being the only one certified as ecological by an independent laboratory.
The E-Flow machine by Jeanologia uses nanobubbles -- not water -- as a carrier for chemical dyes. This means no chemical waste in the water supply and less chemical exposure for workers and wearers. Credit: courtesy of PFGHL.
PFGHL has also installed solar panels on the roofs of most of its factories, and based on initial calculations, they are on track to produce more energy than they actually consume. In the future, they aim to be completely carbon neutral as well, although this is currently only on the research stage.
As a sustainable and environment concerned supplier, PFGHL has many certifications to show for better practices within the textile industry: the LEED Silver (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, for green buildings), Bluesign Standard (for chemical emissions and sustainability), HIGG Index (for social and environmental sustainability), Think Green Initiative (showcasing environmental good practice), SA8000 (for social responsibility), and many more. They were recently awarded the approval of the ISO14001 (environment management system) and the OHSAS18001 (occupational health management system), and are members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium.
A few of PFGHL's certifications: proof of their commitment to sustainability, both environmental and social. Credit: courtesy of PFGHL.
They continue to invest in their certifications and are in the process of getting more, including the official FairTrade, Global Recycling Standart, ISO5001, IFOAM, and Global Organic Textile Standard (for their vertical and sustainable silk project).
It's possible for small and big brands alike to disrupt the textile industry with inspiring ideas that help both people and the planet, and it's crucial for fashion buyers to support initiatives that improve the standards for the textile industry in general. Which of PFGHL solutions are you most inspired by? Despite every business' different challenges, what matters the most is the steps we take towards integrated and intelligent moves. We believe small changes can bring a greater outcome with time. Sign up to our platform to take part in a new community delivering fashion buyers' demands all over the world.