Coats

Sustainability Water

Focus areas

Water

Sustainability Pillars

Water

60% of Coats total water consumption is used in dyeing, one of the most important parts of the thread manufacturing process. Coats continues to invest in new machines with low liquor ratio, while also modifying processes in existing machines to be more water-efficient. It is also exploring innovative developments in waterless dyeing technology.

Water

Leader's Voice

“After a difficult year in 2020 we have made strong progress towards our water intensity reduction target in 2021. There is still a lot to do in 2022 to achieve our target by the end of the year, but there are many projects underway across multiple units that will all be contributing towards our objective and we are confident that we can maintain the current strong rate of progress.

We will continue to focus on our four-pronged approach to water management: eliminating any unnecessary use of water, improving the efficiency of our use by reducing liquor ratios, modifying processes to use less water, and recycling as much as we can.”

Michael Schofer
Chief Operating Officer - Americas

Sharing a Scarce Resource

Two of our strategic sustainability pillars focus on water, this one and the Effluent pillar. This reflects the fact that we use a lot of water in our processes and that during our use the water gets contaminated. The Effluent pages in this report focus on the work of treating our contaminated water after use, while on these pages we focus on our work to reduce the amount of water we use and the amount of fresh water we need to take from the environment.

In many of the locations in which we operate fresh water is relatively scarce, and in these cases every cubic metre that we use increases the general level of water stress around us. It is therefore important that we do everything we can to use water sparingly and with an understanding of the impact of our activities on our neighbours. The main reason that we use a lot of water in our processes is that it is the principal solvent used in our dyeing processes, and is also the means by which we apply heat to processes, through the use of high pressure steam.

We are actively involved in projects to move away from using water for dyeing thread, and progress on this is detailed later in this section. For the foreseeable future, however, water will remain a critical resource for thread processing.

Tracking Water Stress

As a significant user of water in many locations we take care to monitor the water stress wherever we have manufacturing locations. We look principally at the overall supply and demand status (overall stress) and also at the depletion and water table issues. As a basis for this analysis we use the World Resources Institute Aqueduct Water Risk tools. In 2021 35% of our overall water use is in areas with at least a high level of water stress (37% in 2020). In the units with the highest stress levels we recycle over 40% of our water, compared to 22% globally, and this helps to minimise the stress on water availability in these areas. As in previous studies we have found that water depletion and groundwater table decline are not significant issues for our sites.

Reducing Water Use

Our goal, established in 2019, is to reduce our water intensity (measured as water used in processing per kilogramme of thread produced) by 40% compared to our 2018 baseline. Our progress towards this goal has accelerated during 2021 as we have been able to restart some of the water reduction projects that were delayed because of pandemic disruptions in 2020. We have pulled all of these activities, together with our work on energy, effluent and waste, into a company wide ‘Cleaner and Lighter’ programme that is ensuring, through wide employee involvement throughout the business, that we are identifying and spreading best practices more rapidly and effectively than ever before. Every Coats manufacturing unit has a water management plan in place with targets that contribute to achievement of the Coats global target.

As a result of this activity we have reduced our water intensity by the end of 2021 by 22%compared to 2018. This still leaves us a lot to do in 2022 to achieve our target, but the accelerating nature of our activities means that in the last quarter we were achieving intensity reductions of close to 30% compared to 2018, so we are on a strong trend towards our 2022 target. We have also prioritised water reduction actions based on our water stress analysis. Because of this approach, by the end of 2021 we have reduced water intensity in our high and extremely high water stressed units by 34% compared to 2018 so we are proactively ensuring that water reductions happen where water supplies are under most pressure.

Developing Technologies

While we work hard to reduce our water use to the minimum and to expand our use of recycled water, we believe that there are emerging technologies that will allow us to move away from using water as our dyeing solvent and heating medium.

In 2018 we invested in Twine, a start-up based in Israel, that is developing digital dyeing technology for yarns. Digital textile dyeing is not a new process, but to date it has only been successfully industrialised for dyeing on fabrics. The challenges of dyeing on yarns and threads are significant when compared to fabric dyeing. Principally the substrate is three dimensional rather than planar and it is microscopic in size compared to a fabric. Twine have successfully addressed these challenges and during the whole of 2021 we have been running trials on their technology in one of our Innovation Hubs.

Progress has been promising and the technology has been shown to be accurate and reliable in use. Extensive trialling has also, as would be expected with a new technology, identified improvement opportunities and established the current limits of the system. Our plan for 2022 is to start running trials in customers’ premises to establish the ways in which a superfast digital sampling process can simplify and improve the service we offer our customers.

Initially this technology is only suitable for sampling purposes, but we anticipate that further developments could allow it to claim a position in small scale production before the end of this decade.

We continue to study other options that might enable us to move away from water-based dyeing.

Washing carriers and machines using less water

Dyeing, especially of dark colours leaves dye residues coating the steel in the dyeing machine. These can lead to staining when lighter colours are dyed, so machines need to be periodically cleaned to remove these residues. We aim to minimise the frequency of cleaning by scheduling batches to machines on progressively darker colours, but during 2021 we have been focused on finding ways to reduce the amount of water needed to achieve the cleaning. Work done in our Bangladesh plants have resulted in a process that uses 50% less water, but still results in full cleaning, and this is now being used across the group. Meanwhile in our plant in Shenzhen, China we have successfully implemented the use of ultrasonic cleaning technology for cleaning all the removable parts of the dyeing machines (the thread carriers and spindle caps). This technology is now being implemented in other units. While for this process some capital expenditure is necessary, we have shown the payback is normally attractive.

Water: Reduce and reuse

Indicator
Unit 2021 2020 restated1 2020 2019 restated1 2019 2018 restated1 2018
Total water used
Million cubic metres 6.5 5.8 5.9 7.6 7.6 8.3 7.8

Water intensity

Litres/kg produced 67 76 78 83 83 86 83

Water intensity movement compared to 2018

% movement -22% -12% -4%

% of water recycled

% 22% 19% 22% 22% 23% 18% 20%

Withdrawal from municipal supply

Million cubic metres 2.5 2.2 2.3 2.7 2.8 2.8 2.9

% water from municipal supply

% 41% 40% 39% 37% 37% 35% 37%

Withdrawal from ground water sources

Million cubic metres 1.4 1.2 1.3 1.6 1.6 1.9 1.8

% of water from ground water sources

% 23% 22% 21% 21% 21% 23% 23%

Withdrawal from natural watercourses, reservoirs and rainwater harvesting

Million cubic metres 13.3 3.5 1.1 1.4 1.6

% water from natural watercourses and reservoirs and rainwater harvesting

% 13% 18% 18% 20% 18% 24% 20%

Total water withdrawal

Million cubic metres 4.9 4.6 4.6 5.8 5.8 6.7 6.3

1During development of our Science Based Targets inventory some corrections to data from 2018 to 2020 were identified. In addition some reporting inconsistencies to water, energy and waste data were identified and corrected.

For more information on our historical performance download Coats Performance Summary

Water: Reduce and reuse

Indicator
Unit 2017 2016 2015 2014
Total water used
Million cubic metres 7.9 8.2 8.3 8.3

Water intensity

Litres/kg produced 112 118 121 127

% of water recycled

% 11% 8% 4% 2%

Withdrawal from municipal supply

Million cubic metres 3.1 3.1 3.2 3.4

% water from municipal supply

% 37% 36% 39% 41%

Withdrawal from ground water sources

Million cubic metres 2.0 2.2 2.2 2.2

% of water from ground water sources

% 24% 27% 26% 27%

Withdrawal from natural watercourses, reservoirs and rainwater harvesting

Million cubic metres 2.1 2.3 2.5 2.5

% water from natural watercourses and reservoirs and rainwater harvesting

% 28% 28% 30% 30%

Total water withdrawal

Million cubic metres 7.2 7.5 7.9 8.1

For more information on our historical performance download Coats Performance Summary