Using Higg, Al-Karam reduced carbon emissions by 17% in three years
Why a leading manufacturer selected Higg to accelerate ESG targets
Al-Karam is a leading textile manufacturer based in Pakistan, supplying some of the most renowned brands and retailers across the globe. For over 30 years, the company focused on building a global presence, and more recently, they’ve turned attention towards building a leading environmental, social, governance (ESG) program.
Selecting the best ESG software
In 2017, several of Al-Karam’s retail clients started to ask for sustainability data. The company is one of few vertically integrated factories in the country – spinning and weaving, dyeing, processing, printing, and even warehousing and shipping all happen under one roof. While this affords faster, more efficient operations, the system is extraordinarily complex and requires more hands-on management. The company needed an ESG solution that could track multiple systems all at once.
They selected the Higg platform knowing it was a comprehensive solution that would help them manage both their environmental and social programs. Additionally, because the platform is used by thousands of brands, Al-Karam could more easily share their sustainability data and progress to multiple clients at once, reducing audit fatigue.
“It was easy to select Higg. Our customers were asking us to report our data using the platform, so we knew joining would not only help us manage ESG impact, but also streamline communication to clients,” explains Sustainability Manager Furqan Ullah Mir, who joined Al-Karam in 2017 to run their sustainability programs.
Defining sustainability goals
When the company started using Higg to ramp up their sustainability efforts, Mir took on the role of Sustainability Manager full time. “When I first started using Higg, I didn’t have a sustainability team in place, and the company’s ESG goals were yet to be defined,” explains Mir. But once he started completing Higg assessments, he gained access to a wealth of data regarding the company’s social and environmental impact. “I appreciated how easily the platform helped me understand our results, and we set our goals based on that baseline” says Mir.
“Of all of the tools we use to manage sustainability, Higg is the most helpful. The seven categories tracked across the Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM), for example, are more robust than anything else we’ve researched,” Mir explains. “I could easily track our sustainability impact around water, waste, and carbon emissions in one place and see where we needed to improve. Now, data is at the heart of my role and our ESG actions,” says Mir.
“The Higg platform also helps us track cost reductions and ROI from our initiatives,” explains Mir. Having now used Higg for multiple years, the company can track year over year progress, and continue to build new, more aggressive programs.
Advancing social equity
Worker wellbeing is a top priority for the company. In 2019, they completed their first Higg Facility Social Labor Module (FSLM) to get a baseline understanding of their performance, and identify new areas of opportunity.
“The FSLM is the most detailed assessment we’ve ever used,” explains Mir, ”it helped us see what we were doing right, and where there were opportunities to improve.” The company had already offered amenities such as free housing, health insurance, and access to an on-site clinic for workers and their families, which helped them achieve a high FSLM score upfront. “We’re proud of our current initiatives, but there are always areas to grow. We look to the data to help us see where to improve” says Mir.
They are currently scaling a Social Management System, which includes a series of employee committees and programs designed to ensure workplace safety and wellbeing. For example, they’ve launched a mentorship program for women working on the production floor. The program empowers women to submit grievances and report any challenges in the workplace, helping them grow professionally and personally. According to Mir, “these tools not only help us improve the workplace and reduce turnover, but they also increase productivity.”
When Al-Karam first set out to reduce their carbon footprint, they didn’t have a baseline in place or numerical targets to work towards. The Higg FEM helped them establish an emissions baseline,
and in their first three years of reporting, through a combination of efforts including upgrading motors, exhaust systemsand boilers, switching to LED lights and more, the company tracked a reduction in gas consumption by 17% ( 0.34 cubic meters / kWh in Year 1 to 0.28 in Year 3).
Al-Karam is also motivated to reduce their Scope 2 emissions (emissions from purchased electricity) and invest in renewable sources. The company installed 2.6MW of onsite solar capacity, which now makes up 6% of their factory’s electricity consumption. Additionally, Al-Karam installed a 50MW wind farm which will provide clean energy back to the Pakistan’s national grid.
In total, Higg has helped Al-Karam track a total reduction in carbon emissions of 17% since 2018.
Built from a team of one, Al-Karam has made impressive strides to improve its impact. The company has now staffed up their sustainability program to include 12 dedicated team members. This also reaches to cross-department engineers who support Al-Karam in gathering real-time data, target setting, and implementation.
Managing ESG programs is a constant balance, and Higg data has helped the company identify opportunities to improve social and environmental impact across their facility. Read more about the brands and retailers who use Higg to advance ESG progress.