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Cablegate: One Company Leads the Green Initiative in Mauritian

VZCZCXRO8394
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHPL #0424 3391213
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041213Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY PORT LOUIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4312
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1026
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 0763
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS PORT LOUIS 000424

SIPDIS

AF/E FOR MARIA BEYZEROV
ADDIS FOR SHAWNA HIRSCH
OES FOR STANLEY SPECHT
JOHANNESBURG FOR FCS CRAIG ALLEN
EEB FOR STEPHEN GALLOGLY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG ECON EIND SENV TRGY MP
SUBJECT: ONE COMPANY LEADS THE GREEN INITIATIVE IN MAURITIAN
TEXTILES

REF: A. PORT LOUIS 97
B. PORT LOUIS 368

1. Summary. Richfield Tang Knits Ltd (RT Knits), a textile
manufacturing company in Mauritius, has taken initiative to move
toward "sustainable textile production," incorporating "Green
Productivity Techniques" into a new facility in La Tour Koenig, near
Port Louis. Using wind and solar energy, collecting rain water, and
changing the company's perspective, Executive Director Jean Li Wan
Po hopes that RT Knits can be a leader and example for the rest of
the island's textile industry. For their efforts, RT Knits is being
recognized by the Mauritius Export Association (MEXA) as Company of
the Year. Both Li Wan Po and Executive Director of MEXA Danielle
Wong expressed frustration about the carbon credit system, citing
high prices from consultants offering to help Mauritius businesses
join various carbon credit schemes. End Summary.

2. RT Knits, a company of 1600 employees with an annual production
capacity of 16 million units of jersey wear, has two
fully-operational production sites in Mauritius and is close to
launching its third, with a green tint, at La Tour Koenig. With a
turnover of 37 million USD in 2007, RT Knits' main markets are in
Europe and South Africa. Orvis, a Vermont-based American company,
is currently RT Knits' only American customer. In building the La
Tour Koenig facility (which includes an 800,000 sq. ft. factory
built on 30 acres of land), RT Knits spent approximately 25 million
USD on green features, including using solar and wind power in
creative ways and collecting and reusing rain water. La Tour
Koenig, set partway up a hillside south of Port Louis, benefits from
high exposure to the sun and an almost constant wind.

3. RT Knits installed solar panels on the main factory building in
a zig-zag fashion to maximize exposure to the sun--the first such
installation of its kind in Mauritius. But instead of collecting
and using solar power to generate energy, RT Knits will use it
directly to heat water used in the dyeing process--reducing the use
of fossil fuels for heating by 80 percent. Wind power is also being
used directly in the factory through special vents installed in the
wall facing the wind that are manually opened and closed. The wind
can be used to remove excess cotton that is produced during fabric
processing--something usually done by electric fans or vacuums.

4. In addition, RT Knits has dug rain water collection channels
that run 15 meters deep, allowing water that would normally run
downhill to instead be collected underground. The storage warehouse
on the La Tour Koenig property is completely unplugged, using only
natural lighting during the day and stored solar power at night.
The on-site cafeteria, dormitory, and offices have all been
constructed with windows that provide natural lighting for as long
as possible during daylight hours. All of these innovations result
in a 30 percent reduction in overall fuel consumption, with a goal
of increasing that to 50 percent in the near future, according to
project manager Patrick Koo.

5. Li Wan Po asserted that the decision to go green was a company
one with the future in mind. He stated that "we are taking a big
risk," referring to the large investment of capital for something
that is not required and for which the company will receive no
direct recompense. Mauritius provides no tax relief or other
benefits to companies that implement environmental techniques. What
RT Knits does gain is lower production costs and, so far, positive
press coverage of their initiatives, which fall in line with the
Prime Minister's Office's project, Maurice Ile Durable (Sustainable
Mauritius) (see Refs). RT Knits was also a highlight at the Second
General Session of the 2008 Annual Conference of the International
Textile Manufacturers Federation held in Mauritius in October.

6. Li Wan Po mentioned carbon credits as something for Mauritius to
think about in the future, but called it "unrealistic" at the moment
due to the cost of getting started with a program. MEXA head
Danielle Wong echoed his sentiments, relaying that a consulting firm
offered to evaluate and provide information to Mauritian companies
on the possibility of joining a carbon credit scheme for a fee that
was well more than any monetary gain a company could garner from the
credits themselves, calling it "complete nonsense." She lauded the
efforts of RT Knits, stating that they were the basis for its
selection as Company of the Year. Also, a few of other textile
companies have started to follow their lead on a small scale.

CABRERA

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