VERNON, Calif. — Traditionally, washing just one pair of denim pants would require about 22 gallons of water, but the green tech washing machines at the Saitex USA factory in Vernon use less than one-fifth of a gallon.

General Manager David Chang says that's huge savings.

What You Need To Know

  • Saitex USA uses 98% recycled water in their denim production

  • Saitex USA's factory is a "factory of the future" in green technologies

  • Through their commitment to conserving energy, they have reduced their energy usage by 13 million kilowatt-hours per year and reduced CO2 emissions by nearly 80%

  • Every year, the fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water, enough to meet the consumption needs of five million people

"Within one year, we'll be saving 38 million liters of water by using newer machines [rather] than the traditional machines," Chang said.

That's equivalent to saving over 10 million gallons of water per year. Saitex does this by using a recycled water filtration system. While California is experiencing extreme drought with its driest year in a century, Saitex has invested in a future with less water.

"The water that we use, it does not discharge, but we reuse it over and over again," Chang said. "Therefore, the use of water is very less than minimal."

This factory of the future opened in March of 2021, and sustainability is the focal point of what they do. They've invested millions of dollars in energy- and resource-efficient machinery. That commitment to the environment is why Director of Sustainability Katina Boutis of the retailer Everlane says they partnered with Saitex to make their denim.

"In Saitex, we really found a partner who was doing things differently, and not just doing things differently, but really doing the best," Boutis said.

The laser-cutting technology is just one example of a machine that's energy and resource efficient. It's a stark contrast to typical denim manufacturing that uses dangerous dyes and chemicals while overconsuming energy and natural resources, including water.

But Saitex is setting the example for clean manufacturing, especially by recycling 98% of the water it uses.

"So that's a really special capability, and the closest we've been able to find to that is recycling 60% of that washwater," Boutis said.

So, the state-of-the-art technology and machinery that Saitex uses is a game-changer in the entire denim industry. As climate change exacerbates drought and water shortages, they've chosen to adapt to future dry years.

"That's how it's supposed to be moving forward because there's only one earth that we're living in, and we need to somehow help out," Chang said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Saitex’s factory in Vernon had been open since March 2020. The error has been corrected to reflect the correct date. (Nov. 8, 2021)