Like most manufacturing facilities in the countries in which we operate, the energy source used by our plants has traditionally come from fossil fuels, particularly bunker oil. Fossil fuels have been the focus of much attention in recent years as they generate greenhouse gas emissions, which have a damaging effect on the environment, thus contributing to global warming. In addition, fossil fuels are non-renewable, and increasingly costly, resources.
Gildan is in the process of finalizing the transition of its steam generation plants from fossil fuels to biomass steam generation in Central America and in the Caribbean Basin. As a first step, in February of 2010, we completed the installation of a biomass system at our Dominican Republic textile manufacturing facility. We are pleased to report that this system is now supplying the vast majority of our steam requirements. Likewise, in Honduras, our two hosiery facilities have been using biomass systems since August and November 2010. In 2012, we completed the construction of our largest biomass facility which provides the steam needed to power our three textile facilities in Honduras.
In the Dominican Republic, the system substitutes fossil fuel with biomass such as agricultural residues and selected packaging and production leftovers.
In Honduras, the burning biomass consists of a variety of agroforestry residues – mainly African Palm –, cultivated crops harvested from agricultural energy plantations and non-fossil industrial residues from Gildan’s production processes.
In 2012, 36% of Gildan’s total energy was powered from renewable sources.
Key benefits of the Agricultural Energy Plantations' Biomass Systems
- The dedicated energy crops plantations provide numerous and diversified jobs in urban and rural areas, reducing migration flow to the cities.
- The energy from plantation-grown biomass is considered a carbon neutral process, therefore, it does not contribute to global warming and climate change.
- Biomass crops combustion generates less ash than coal with the advantage that the generated ash can be used as organic soil fertilizer.
- Biomass crops contain very low levels of sulfur.
- Biomass crops are a local source of fuel, independent of fluctuating oil prices. Their use in developing countries greatly reduces economic pressures resulting from oil derivatives and increases the country’s energy autonomy.
- Biomass is a reliable, long-term fuel supply.
- Biomass supports the development of agro-industries for the production of renewable and clean energy.