Environment

Impahla is recognised by the Western Cape government’s 110% Green initiative, for being the first carbon neutral garment manufacturer in South Africa. We remain committed to creating a greener, more sustainable working environment.The clothing and textile manufacturing industry’s potential to negatively impact the environment is considered moderate. We recognise our responsibility to monitor, manage and reduce our environmental impacts wherever and whenever possible.

Carbon footprint

In order to maintain our status as a carbon neutral business we monitor, manage and annually report on our carbon footprint. Using the methodology and conversion factors given at www. carbonfootprint.com, our carbon emissions for the current financial year increased by 56% to a total of 1 186 tonnes (2013/14: 759 tonnes) of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e). Our expansion into energy intensive knit fabric manufacture, yarn manufacture and sublimation, accounts for the increase in our carbon footprint increasing to 1.36 kg CO2e per employee hour worked (2013/14: 0.84 kg CO2e).

To remain a carbon neutral business, we offset our carbon emissions by annually planting trees through a certified carbon-trading programme managed by Trees for Africa. At R50 a tree, we will spend a total of R160 650 in the coming year on planting 3 213 trees to offset our emissions for the year. In addition, our waste management programme costs us approximately R9 000 per month, after adjusting down for the income generated from recycling.



Electricity and solar power

We buy 97% of our electricity from South Africa’s power utility provider Eskom, while the other 3% we produce ourselves via our own 30 kWp solar photovoltaic (PV) plant at Maitland. Extrapolating the growth in our knitwear fabric and socks manufacturing divisions, by next year we anticipate using three times the amount of electricity than when we first installed our solar PV generating plant at Maitland.

We are concerned with our increasing dependence on Eskom, in particular the production losses we experience during load-shedding. We are also aware of the environmental impact of using power generated from the coal-fired national grid. Given these concerns, we are investigating increasing our own power-generating activities (see accompanying text box).

Water

We source all our water from local municipal supplies. Water is mainly used for human consumption such as drinking, washing hands and flushing toilets, but also for cleaning. Only a small quantity of water is used during our production processes for ironing. All used water is discharged into the municipal sewage system and we have no facility to recycle water.

Waste

An external contractor monitors, manages and recycles waste on our behalf. Hazardous waste Although limited in total volume consumed and/or disposed of, hazardous materials are often used in our manufacturing facilities, particularly in the maintenance and operation of the facilities and equipment. The total volumes are minimal. However,Impahla continues to monitor the handling, storage and disposal of all solvents, lubricants and other hazardous materials.


Hazardous waste
Although limited in total volume consumed and/or disposed of, hazardous materials are often used in our manufacturing facilities, particularly in the maintenance and operation of the facilities and equipment. The total volumes are minimal. However, Impahla continues to monitor the handling, storage and disposal of all solvents, lubricants and other hazardous materials.


Fuel

In total, we used 2 700 litres of petrol and 7 000 litres of diesel during the year in our vehicles, a slight reduction over the previous year, as a result of tighter control over delivery routes and production planning, as well as reflecting the consolidation of our production lines in fewer facilities. This is the first full year for incorporation into our system of the paraffin-fuelled boiler powering the Elsies River sock production plant. When the 16 000 litres of paraffin is added to petrol and diesel consumption, our total fuel usage rises by 44%. Usage intensity, measured against employee hours worked, has risen by 81%.

Within the forthcoming year, we expect this figure to rise even further as we anticipate taking our first steps towards installing diesel-powered generators to ensure an uninterrupted power supply to our production facilities.



Working in partnership with Food and Trees for Africa, we off-set our carbon emissions through planting indigenous trees in needy communities throughout the Western Cape, ensuring that we remain a carbon neutral clothing manufacturer. 2012 Tree beneficiary list (add table).

In keeping with our company strategy to reduce our carbon footprint we have installed a 30 kWp solar photovoltaic (PV) plant, designed and installed by Power Solutions. The system consists of 131 solar modules capturing energy from the sun and generating approximately 48 MWh/annum that is fed directly into our electricity grid, replacing approximately 25% of our demand. Over the lifetime of the system, we expect to offset some 1 150 tons of carbon.

The electricity system is monitored and displayed in our entrance foyer and can be followed on the following link: http://www.sunnyportal.com. The project was funded through the IDC's Green Energy Efficiency Fund in line with its goal to reduce reliance on coastal-based electrical power and introduce environmentally friendly production processes.

Our on-going objective is to continually identify ways to reduce our overall carbon footprint and improve our processes and monitoring systems in relation to our usage of electricity, water, fuel, travel and waste, to improve our overall carbon efficiency.

Green Economy Strategy Framework

The Strategy Framework informs and drives all projects conducted under 110% Green and the wider Western Cape Government Green Economy programme. For more information click on following link:

Green Economy Strategy Framework


Carbon credit Drakenstein Municipality

Impahla Clothing’s ongoing carbon management programme to reduce their carbon footprint and their commitment to ensuring that the impact of the business’s manufacturing operation is minimal, has resulted this year in funding the planting of 2 027 trees around the Drakenstein municipal area, in the Western Cape.

In previous years Impahla have partnered with Food and Trees for Africa but this year made a decision to team up with Just Trees and the Drakenstein Municipality, who have a goal to make their district the greenest in South Africa.

On Wednesday 3rd September members of the Impahla team attended an official tree planting ceremony at the Weltevrede Sports Ground in Wellington. The ceremony was attended by the Executive Mayor, Advocate Gesie van Deventer, many invited guests including school children from the area. After the official welcoming ceremony and keynote address by Professor Chris Reddy BSc (Hons), M.Phil (UWC), PhD (Stell), Head of Curriculum Studies at Stellenbosch University, everyone assisted in planting the 167 trees in the grounds of the sport facility.

The Drakenstein Municipality is currently in the process of renovating and improving the amenities at the Weltevrede Sports Ground and the trees planted have contributed hugely to enhancing the facilities.