Man putting jeans in Wiser Wash machine.

Denim industry Vietnam discovers Wiser Wash sustainable technology

Segments

Start-ups & SMEs

Countries

Asia, Vietnam

Sectors

Manufacturing

Solutions

Development, Grant

Green, sustainable denim with reduced water consumption and zero toxic chemicals discharged into the environment. Wiser Wash makes it possible. Invest International is helping to finance the application of an innovative washing technique, developed by the Dutch company Wiser Globe. A pilot project with Wiser Wash at Phong Phu International (PPJ), a leading textile producer in Vietnam, marks an important first step on the path to a sustainable production process in the Asian country.

Dutch company Wiser Globe

Jeans with a modern, worn look are popular. They know all about that at Phong Phu International JSC (PPJ). Thousands of pairs of jeans in all sorts of models and indigo colours roll off the production line there every day. Since these jeans require multiple wash cycles and bleaching agents, the production is not always environmentally friendly and it uses huge volumes of water and energy. That has to change. The Wiser Wash process by the Dutch company Wiser Globe offers the answer. Because PPJ places a premium on sustainability and wants to reduce its water footprint, the textile producer is testing the technique at its Da’Nang factory with the idea of applying it in all its washing plants in Vietnam.

Springboard for Wiser Wash technology

The pilot scheme, which runs until 2022, has been made possible through financing from Invest International (previously called FMO/NL Business). The aim is to support the testing of the technique, to create demand for the technique among other jeans brands that collaborate with PPJ, and to scale up Wiser Wash to the nine PPJ washing plants over a period of two years.

In addition, the pilot project is intended as a source for knowledge development to improve the Wiser Wash business model, thereby enabling its rollout in emerging markets. In that way it forms a springboard for sustainable development within PPJ and for a broader application of Wiser Wash in other countries.

“150,000 pairs of jeans were made using the clean Wiser Wash technique at PPJ in Vietnam in 2021.”

Woman selecting jeans for Wiser Wash in Vietnam.

The project is expected to contribute to gender diversity and inclusivity. About 90 percent of PPJ employees are female.

Better jeans for humankind and environment

Investing in a greener denim industry is important, because the production of denim consumes a lot of water and energy around the world. In addition, hazardous toxic chemicals, colouring agents and pumice stones are released into the environment during the bleaching process. This, combined with the lengthy production process that places great demands on factory workers, calls for a more sustainable approach.

Saving of 56 million litres of water

The Wiser Wash technique utilizes a mixture of electrified ozone gas and laser. By applying these, it actually creates a three-in-one solution. It ensures more sustainable denim, reduces the ecological and water footprint, and shortens the production process so that working conditions improve.

The special treatment process considerably reduces water and energy consumption during the washing process without affecting the desired result. While 16 litres of water are normally required to bleach a pair of jeans, this process reduces that figure to just one cup of water.

In 2021 the application of the Wiser Wash technique resulted in a world-wide saving of 56 million litres of water according to Wiser Globe. A brand that already uses the technique is Pepe Jeans, whose so-called Tru-Blu jeans are produced in a factory in Izmir. The process is certified by the Control Union, one of the most prestigious certificates in the field of sustainability.

“From 16 litres to one cup of water for a pair of jeans, but still the desired look.”

The project is expected to contribute to gender diversity and inclusivity. About 90 percent of PPJ employees are female.

This is what the Wiser Wash technique does:

  • reduces water consumption in the denim washing process by 65 percent.
  • reduces the use of energy and dyes.
  • discharges no corrosive chemicals or residues (zero discharge) into the environment.
  • shortens and simplifies the production process, which is better and safer for employees.
  • lengthens the lifespan of the product because of less wear and tear of the denim.
Pairs of jeans on hanging hooks

The project involves testing the Wiser Wash technique in the PPJ factory in Vietnam, assessing its effectiveness, and scaling up its use. The goal is to apply it in all factories.

Wiser Wash testing, verifying and scaling up

On 8 May 2020, the first agreement with Wiser Globe was signed for an investment of 400,000 euro. This development capital was provided through the Development Accelerator Facility and used for the pilot project at PPJ in Da’Nang. The project involves testing the Wiser Wash technique in the factory, verifying its effectiveness, and exploring how to scale it up.

The goal is the rollout in all PPJ factories, involving a total investment of 40 million euro. PPJ purchases the license to introduce the Wiser Wash technique in all its factories and will also invest in new machines and education for the rollout of the technique.

Good to know: According to the Reducing Inequalities Label guidelines of Invest International, the investment is also expected to contribute to gender diversity and inclusivity. About 90 percent of PPJ employees are female.

Machines for Wiser Wash technology in Vietnam.

In 2021 the application of Wiser Wash technique saved about 56 million litres of water around the world.

The Wiser Wash project wants to make an impact by:

  • making the denim market more sustainable around the world, starting with the PPJ pilot project in Vietnam.
  • creating a cleaner denim industry in Vietnam, exclusively for PPJ factories.
  • reducing water and energy consumption and reducing the ecological footprint.
  • improving working conditions and shortening the production process.
  • contributing over time to an inclusive factory floor and to gender diversity.
  • stimulating knowledge development to improve the business model for the Dutch company Wiser Globe and the Wiser Wash technique.
  • developing a social and environmental management system for the rollout of the system in emerging markets.
  • helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 8 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure), 9 (Decent work and economic growth), 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) and 13 (Climate action).
Read more on our view on impact

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