Svenmill: One Year On


And what an exciting and rewarding year it has been, for both Svenmill and Living Wealth!  Now, finally, we also have some results to show for our hard work:

Water: 10,120 litres saved per month

Waste: 51% reduction in waste to landfill

Raw Materials: R2.44mil over next 5 years

About Svenmill

Svenmill’s market is home furnishings and industrial textiles.  They employ approx. 300 people, and their Beaconvale factory has 3 main production divisions – Knitting (Levinet); Weaving & CMT.  As our journey with them progressed, we chose to use Levinet as a proving ground for some of our eco-efficiencies (Environmental improvements that yield parallel economic benefits, thereby creating more value with less impact. ~ World Business Council for Sustainable Development)

One year ago we started the journey with Svenmill according to the Living Wealth phased approach to eco-transformation.  There have been many challenges along the way, chief among them budget & time constraints, but also the good ones like too many opportunities to solve to choose from.  One year on, Svenmill’s journey has resulted in the following achievements:



Inefficiency - 35% of their facility’s water usage was literally going down the toilet:

  • In-house, low-cost solution = 4 litres saved per flush
  • 4 litres x 46 toilets x 2.5 flushes per person per day = 10,120 litres saved per month
  • Chemical analysis resulted in greater awareness and up to date MSDS data from suppliers



Energy: Fuel

  • Implemented new distribution logistics for increased efficiency
  • Savings not currently verifiable but estimated at 20% reduction in fuel consumption

Energy: Electricity

Inefficiency – 26% of electricity consumed by lighting, much of it empty spaces

  • Voluntary staff efficiency combined with a lights-off policy
  • Investigated machinery usage – purchased energy monitor for measuring the energy used to run machines in various operating modes
  • Machinists no longer leave machines idling – they are put on standby or turned off.


Solid Waste

We teamed up with a waste resource management company, RE to address Svenmill's waste challenge of 12 tons of waste to landfill per month

  • Implemented a separation-at-source recycling system
  • All types of waste are characterised, weighed and recorded, and as much as possible is then either sold to willing buyers or sent for recycling.
  • First 2 weeks of operation saw decrease of 51% in waste to landfill for Levinet division, which constitutes approx 12% of the 12 tons
  • This is equivalent to R9,000 annual saving in transport and landfill costs, and R3,800 per annum in income from willing buyers



Raw Materials

Every year 10.5 tons of raw materials (100% virgin polyester yarn) is sent to landfill, this constitutes a waste factor that is costed into most businesses as a matter of course and reducing this waste factor translated into direct bottom line savings:

  • Greater awareness led to more careful resource use by factory workers
  • Rewinding leftover yarn for use in darker fabrics further reduced waste factor from 3% to 0 in Levinet division
  • Potential savings = 10.5 tons x R25 per kg of yarn + 26% compounded interest per year =
    • after 1 year = R292,477
    • after 3 years = R1,125,334
    • after 5 years = R2,447,579



Intangible Benefits: People

  • Employee empowerment and common understanding of sustainability objectives
  • Reward system implemented out of eco-savings to improve work environment
  • Open communication between product designers and production line for promotion of most eco-friendly products and processes
  • Eco-suggestion boxes and eco-newsletter implemented for maximum employee involvement



The Journey Ahead

In keeping with the Living Wealth Clean Business Strategy:

  • Improve monitoring and reporting systems to track progress
  • Roll out Zero Waste project to remainder of Svenmill divisions
  • Closed Loop Production initiatives currently being explored:
    • Reuse of reclaimed fabrics
    • Rental solution – selling function rather than fabric
    • Organic and eco-friendly products
    • Begin engaging suppliers and customers for end-to-end environmental integrity