Water

Our industry relies on water, and our planet is counting on our industry to use water wisely. Clean water is a basic human right and essential for thriving biodiversity, yet water scarcity and quality are significant global issues.

Two billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress, and 80% of wastewater flows back into ecosystems without being treated. Climate change worsens these impacts by increasing the likelihood of water-related disruptions such as floods, droughts, rising sea levels and changing rainfall patterns. 

The fashion industry is one of the biggest users of water, and also one of the biggest polluters. From growing cotton to dyeing fabric and washing clothes, fashion takes its toll.

That’s why it is our responsibility to conserve water, reuse and recycle wherever possible, and keep it clean for future generations.

Water stewardship

We’ve been working to reduce our water impact across each part of our value chain for more than a decade, paying attention to both global and local impact and context.

Our water stewardship strategy focuses on water awareness and efficiency throughout our value chain, impact measurement, and stakeholder engagement — including working with policy makers to advocate for sustainable management at local (basin) level. 

Our Water Roadmap

Our Water Roadmap 2018-2022 lays out our goals and the actions we need to take to deliver on our strategy. Our tools and activities include: 

  • Water-management requirements for suppliers, covering legal compliance and a set of minimum and aspirational requirements for water use and quality.
  • Water Risk assessment, using WWF’s water-risk filter.
  • Cleaner-production program implemented in our value chain together with external partners such as WaterPaCT/IFC, Sweden Textile Water Initiative (STWI).
  • Wastewater recycling solutions piloted and implemented in textile production processes.​​

Our industry is complex, which means collaboration is central to our efforts to manage water in a sustainable way. Our partnership with WWF began in 2011 and includes water as a key focus. 

To encourage industry-wide progress on water use and quality, we work with and align our performance reporting with groups such as Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC).

Saving water to protect every precious drop

Water is a scarce resource in many parts of the world and one of the fashion industry’s biggest environmental challenges.
Read more about how we are conserving, reusing and recycling water in our SR20 report.

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