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SML Group Releases 2021 Annual Sustainability Report

While the fashion industry contributes up to 1.5% of global GDP and plays a critical role in today’s economy, it also produces an estimated 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, a number that, according to the UN Environment Programme, will rise almost 50% by 2030 without proper intervention. SML Group, the world’s most trusted and agile partner for comprehensive item-level RFID and brand identification solutions in the new era of retailing, has worked for years to address these issues across its solutions, manufacturing processes and broader supply chain. Today, the company released its SML 2021 Annual Sustainability Report benchmarking its progress.

The SML 2021 Annual Sustainability report details the company’s five-year sustainability goals and summarizes key environmental and social impact milestones achieved since 2018. In 2020, SML reduced its overall energy consumption by 30% and CO2 greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, surpassing its goal of 3% accumulative reductions annually.

“Despite the widespread challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, it was imperative that we continue our work to drive improvements in sustainability and social good in 2020,” said Ignatius K.C. Lau, Vice Chairman and CEO, SML Group. “From new developments in renewable energy, the introduction of non-solvent-based inks, sourcing recycled or compostable materials for production, to our leading item-level RFID solutions, we have and will keep pushing ourselves – and our global brand customers – to go above and beyond to minimize environmental impact and strengthen social performance.”

In 2020, SML achieved the following when compared to the baseline year (2018):

  • Material Use – 180% increase in recycled yarn and 180% increase in recycled tape use
  • Paper – 150% increase in Forest Stewardship CouncilTM -certified paper use, the equivalent to saving 52,000 mature trees, 57,000 m3 of water, and 9,000 MWh of electricity
  • Waste Management – Achieved and maintained 91.9% of landfill-free waste as well as 91.6% of recycled waste for use
  • Chemicals – 92.6% of chemicals procured conform to SML’s environmental and social values
  • Water Resource Management – 16% reduction in global water consumption

SML’s RFID solutions are a significant aid in driving industry-wide sustainability. Compared to conventional Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) RFID labels, the company’s EcoInspireTM RFID labels drove a 10–16% decrease in product carbon footprint. In addition, SML’s item-level RFID solution, Clarity®, empowers retailers with greater inventory visibility and stock accuracies of up to 98% that enable them to make more informed decisions around manufacturing. By understanding appropriate and accurate inventory levels, retailers and manufacturers can therefore significantly reduce levels of unnecessary material resources, transport emissions, and landfill waste. In fact, an RFID customer minimized its annual garment volume by more than 20 million items, equating to approximately 400 shipping containers full of garments that did not have to be manufactured, shipped or distributed.

In addition to its five-year sustainability goals, the report also details SML’s progress on broader corporate social programs, including its COVID-19 response strategy, occupational health and safety initiatives, diversity benchmarks and ethical business practices. In 2020, SML recorded an outstanding Total Recordable Incident Rate of 0.52 as part of initiatives to maintain the highest standards of safe working conditions and compliance towards ethical trading policies.

Lau added, “We believe that the future of a more eco-forward industry lies firmly in our hands. In releasing this report, SML is committed to being an accountable and transparent partner to global brands as they begin or accelerate their own sustainable journeys. We’re proud of the strides we’ve made to date and will continue to evaluate new solutions, materials and processes that will drive a better future for the industry at large.”

To read the full SML 2021 Annual Sustainability Report, visit: