Crystal International shows the way to a low-carbon, climate-resilient fashion industry
Progressing towards its 2050 net zero goal, Crystal International Group Limited, a global leader in apparel manufacturing, shines in five sustainability pillars - Environment, Innovation, Product Integrity, Employee Care, Community Engagement, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
Founded in 1970, Crystal International Group Limited is a leading manufacturer in lifestyle wear, denim, intimate, sweater, sportswear and outdoor apparel. Headquartered in Hong Kong, the group operates around 20 manufacturing facilities in Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Staying focused on sustainability, the group’s sterling efforts in social and environmental contributions were recognized by Fortune magazine’s “Change the World” list in 2016, ranking 17th out of 50 global companies.
Taking sustainability targets to new heights
Crystal International began to focus specifically on sustainability in 2007 when it developed its sustainability framework, which comprises five pillars aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations: Environment, Innovation, Product Integrity, Employee Care and Community Engagement.
Based on this framework, its first Global 5-year Environmental Targets were set in 2007. Over the years, all the targets have been met with flying colors, thanks to the group’s determination and untiring efforts. The group is currently in its third set of targets, which provides a strategic direction for all its factories and takes green apparel manufacturing to the next level.
Striving towards Net Zero 2050 vision, together
Crystal International has committed to net zero emissions by 2050 with an interim target of reducing 35 percent aggregate greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
According to its Chief Executive Officer Andrew Lo, it is important for leaders in the garment industry to set an example for the entire industry towards net zero emission goals.
To achieve this long-term goal, the group has integrated net zero into its corporate strategy and ramped up decarbonization actions, including enhancing productivity and energy efficiency, augmenting the use of on-site renewable energy and exploring opportunities for off-site renewable resources. It will also invest in new green technologies for its operations.
On the other hand, Lo believes that cross-sector collaboration is essential to accelerate the transition to a net-zero economy. As one of the signatories of the United Nations Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, the group has been pooling efforts with over 170 brands, manufacturers and organizations.
“The challenges are high and sometimes seem insurmountable, but the opportunities are huge and real,” he says. “I believe it can be done but we need everyone from retailers, brands, garment manufacturers, fabric mills, and the rest of the supply chain to work together to make it happen.”
Smart warehouse boosts digitalization and automation
As a part of its plan to automate and digitize its systems, Crystal International launched the smart warehouse solution in its Vietnam denim factory this year. The smart warehouse is key to managing high-volume warehouse operations and complex supply chain logistics.
In addition to 24/7 flexible operations and increased storage volume by 100 percent, the system and enhanced logistics flow help to minimize labour constraints by reducing 50 percent manpower and increase the efficient use of land space. Minimizing human activities also improves worker safety and lowers the risk of injury.
Furthermore, since all warehouse data are stored in one system, tracking fabrics and finished goods inventory becomes more efficient. All these bring additional value to customers – boosting movement of materials and streamlining the manufacturing process.
Empowering over 50,000 female workers with knowledge and skills
As women accounts for 70 percent of the total workforce at Crystal International, the group puts utmost efforts into promoting gender equality. To date, it has empowered over 50,000 female employees in its factories through its self-developed CARE program, which covers the P.A.C.E. program initiated by Gap Inc. and the HERproject initiated by Business for Social Responsibility.
In 2021, 6,151 female trainees attended a total of 81,164 training hours, equipping themselves with knowledge such as financial literacy, health and safety, time management and career advancement.
After the course, female employees perform more professionally at work and lead an improved personal life. They have become proactive, thinking positively and creating a harmonious work environment. Efficiency and quality have also significantly risen with outstanding employees promoted to line leaders.
Pioneering award-winning digital learning program
P.A.C.E. is initiated by Gap Inc. to empower front-line female workers in the garment industry to equip them with work and personal skills for better individual development and career enhancement.
In 2012, the group launched P.A.C.E. in its China denim factory. Following its success, the program commenced in Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh.
During the pandemic, the denim factory in China developed a digital P.A.C.E. program, making Crystal International the first global apparel manufacturer to deliver P.A.C.E. digitally. Subsequently, the demin factory in China was awarded “The Digital Content Creator Award” at the P.A.C.E. Awards 2021 by Gap Inc.
Meanwhile, the denim factory in Cambodia also won “The P.A.C.E. Photo of the Year Award”, recognizing Crystal’s efforts in supporting female workers.
Bracing for the challenges ahead
With the accomplishment of current targets including freshwater conservation, women empowerment and volunteering hours, Crystal International will continue its endeavours to achieve carbon reduction and tree planting targets. Crystal International is on track in completing its Third Global 5-year Sustainability Targets by end of 2022, including carbon reduction, freshwater conservation, tree planting, women empowerment and volunteering hours.
In addition to its long-term climate goal, plans are in place to draw up its “Crystal Sustainability Vision 2030” which will comprise a comprehensive set of social and environmental targets to address industry sustainability challenges, leading it to reach new heights.