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Leonie Vaas, a chemical engineer who is responsible for sustainability and innovation at Hayley’s Fabrics made history last June when she was selected from among thousands around the world to be named the one of the 10 pioneers of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations (UN) Global Compact for 2021.

With extensive experience in reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) and ensuring carbon neutrality, product life cycle perspective, plant and process improvements with sustainable technologies and chemicals management textiles, Leonie paved the way for local sustainability champions to be recognized on a global platform, a press release from Hayley’s Fabrics said.

She primarily focuses on five key areas at Hayleys Fabric, including driving efforts to reduce GHG emissions, water conservation, improving efficiency with sustainable solutions for effluent treatment plants. , building and training sustainability teams, as well as developing and applying new processes for “better and greener products,” the statement said.

A sustainable business starts with a sustainable culture

“I have always had a passion for the environment, so from the start I turned to work in the field of sustainable development. Once I joined Hayleys Fabric, I was challenged and supported to properly link sustainability and innovation. Here, the opportunity to have a continuous learning experience, to be at the forefront of sustainable innovation and to help shape a greener future – is great.

“We have a strong leadership commitment that all employees are equal and, ultimately, this culture and enthusiasm to take the lead in sustainability is what drives our success. Sustainability is fundamentally driven by top management and we were able to go this far with the support and guidance of our CEO and Managing Director Rohan Goonetilleke. Thanks to this unique momentum, we were able to quickly bring our sustainable innovations to market, which allowed me to showcase what Hayleys and Sri Lanka have to offer to the world. When you build the right culture, everything else flows from there, ”Vaas said.

A team committed to sustainable innovation

True sustainability is more than just innovation. Leonie cites a multitude of extraordinary initiatives implemented by the Hayleys Fabric team aimed collectively at ensuring global leadership in the manufacture of sustainable textiles.

“We treat 100% of the water used for production in order to maintain strict compliance with certified and audited commitments on zero discharge of hazardous chemicals. This standard is recognized around the world, beyond Sri Lanka’s strict national regulations, ”noted Leonie.

Signatory of the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to 1.5 ° C, Hayleys Fabric has already reduced its carbon footprint by 15%. This was achieved by installing the largest private-sector rooftop solar power system in Sri Lanka at the company’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Horana. With 9,000 solar panels installed over 18,000 square meters, the system has contributed 4.5 MW to the national grid since June 2021.

Leonie finds the company’s future focus on reengineering its value chain to be truly inspiring. “Our team is looking to replace production supplies with recycled polyester, organic cotton and other biodegradable materials, as well as increase production capacity to create textiles from yarns made from recycled plastic.

The innovation team recently launched an app to enable end-to-end traceability of its recycled PET fabrics, mainly supplied locally to the largest garment manufacturers in Sri Lanka. This will allow local producers and global retailers to label individual garments with a QR code, which customers can scan to find out exactly how many discarded PET bottles were used to create the item and exactly in which part of Sri Lanka, the bottles were collected. .

Hayleys Fabric also connects employees with key sustainability issues through culture building, webinars, and training and awareness workshops.

“Keeping in mind key issues such as waste separation, pollution and energy efficiency ensures that all staff remain engaged in the company’s quest to become a global leader in sustainable textile production. As local leaders, we must always continue to find ways to become global pioneers. “


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