Ludhiana has set its mind to all things green. At the vanguard is the industry, which is trying to bring it to new ways of thinking and doing business. And, what do you know; the city most infamous for its high pollution levels may soon have cleared the smokescreen away.From re-using treated sewage water to non-conventional means of power generation, small and big businesses are vying for the "eco-friendly" tag to win over global partners that talk carbon index and footprints.
The industry is more mindful of its ways and image. But, herein lies the catch. There's a clamour for the green tag, fine, but is it merely a means to an end or a conscious effort to save the planet? The change has been most visible among export units, some would argue.
"It is as much out of environmental concern as for business interest. The green label definitely puts a premium on products in the export market," concedes Sanjay Kapoor, managing director of Kazaro International.
Kapoor recently commissioned a survey to assess the market potential in Europe before launching his 'green' designer line for women. All set to hit European stores in June, Kapoor's collection uses organic fabric, handspun yarn and vegetable dyes.
The young entrepreneur is more aware and passionate about the green cause, he says. And, lucrative budgets are going into this green makeover.
"Ecological concerns have driven many entrepreneurs to produce brands with green DNAs," says another industrialist.
Given the cost-benefit analysis, the "green shift" has proved profitable. Oswal Woolen Mills, the flagship concern of the $550-million Nahar group of companies, has invested over Rs 1 crore in a project that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil fuel-based electricity generation with eco-friendly sustainable resources such as rice husk.
"This green electricity, as it turns out, is more cost effective than that provided by the state electricity board," Sandeep Jain, Executive Director of Oswal Woolen Mills, told HT.
Like several other textile units, his company does not use azo dyes, which contain carcinogenic components, he said.
The European Union has banned imports of textile and leather products with excessive azo content to reduce the harm to humans from such garments.
At Abhishek Industries Limited, part of the Rs 25-billion global conglomerate Trident group, being eco-friendly is not just a target, but a way of life.
The group's paper division claims that by using wheat straw as the primary raw material for paper making, the company saves more than 5,000 trees from being cut.
"We use farm residue and renewable resources to make truly natural paper, completely in line with Corporate Responsibility for Environmental Protection norms," says Rajinder Gupta, CEO and Managing Director of the group.
Trident, along with a host of other local export houses, has adopted energy conservation drives, strictly advocating the 'three Rs'- recycle, reuse and reduce. They have commissioned a water treatment plant that encourages use of surface water by industrial plants instead of ground water and hence, avoids ground water depletion.
With environmental sustainability proving to be beneficial, dozens of other units, mainly export houses, have opted for green technology backed "green products".
Some companies have gone the extra mile and are striving to green their entire supply chain.
"We are in the process of rearranging the network between suppliers, manufacturer and customers by locating them close to each other to reduce fuel consumption and other environmental costs," says Varun Jain, Director of the Rs 240-crore Venus Group of Companies, whose flagship concern UV&W exclusively deals with organic clothing.
With a strong list of export clients such as Gap, Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Hudson Bay, Sam's Club, Jean Fritz and The Children's Place, Jain is familiar with business economics and understands how to make a "green" product a premium one. He has enhanced uninterrupted recycle and reuse of treated effluent for purposes of plantation and maintenance activities in various sections of the industrial plants.
"Such measures give us an edge as the demand for garments made from organic cotton and use of eco-friendly technologies is soaring in both domestic and international markets," said Jain, whose company belives that the future of fashion is 'green'.