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Bangladesh textile and apparel industry needs to focus more on economic sustainability

Bangladesh is far ahead to practice sustainability than any other countries.

Sustainability has often been defined as only an environmental issue. But, the 21st-century definition of sustainability goes far beyond these limits. In the present day, it refers to a balancing act that meets the need of the present without compromising the well-being of future generations. For textile and apparel industry, one of the basic industries, sustainability means to ensure environmental, social and economic balancing in the business process.

Bangladesh textile apparel industry focus economic sustainability
Figure 1: Nowadays factory owners are practicing sustainability as it reduces costs and risks. The picture shows first in the world LEED Platinum certified woven processing factory Mithela Textile.

Sustainability in Bangladesh textile and apparel industry

2018 has been a long and eventful year, where textile and garment sector saw an enormous growth. Sustainability has been the most uttered word throughout the year and it was not only discussed, a number of significant developments were happened in the gamut. However, progress has been made more in the environment and social sustainability but not in economic sustainability. The economic sustainability is also equally important like other two elements. Without settling economic sustainability how could the textile and apparel manufacturers ensure environment and social sustainability? Manufacturers cannot ensure them for a long time without upholding economic sustainability.

Bangladesh goes on top to secure LEED certification

LEED Platinum certified factories in Bangladesh

Bangladesh, the second largest ready-made garment exporter in the world, has taken a leading position in sustainable green industrialization with the world’s several top-ranked Green factories. Bangladesh already has become a role model for Green Manufacturing of textile and garment in the world.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Bangladesh’s RMG sector now has 67 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green factories. Among them 13 are LEED Platinum rated while more than 280 garment factories in Bangladesh would get the LEED certification soon.

In South Asia, Bangladesh has taken the lead in green initiatives. LEED Platinum certified factories are: Tarasima Apparels, Plummy Fashions, Vintage Denim Studio, Columbia Washing Plant, Echotex, SQ Celsius Unit 2, Kaniz Fashions, Genesis Washing, Genesis Fashions, SQ Birichina, SQ ColBlanc, Envoy Textiles Ltd and Mithela Textile Industries Limited (MTIL).

Also Read: Mithela Textile is the first-ever LEED Platinum Certified woven dyeing factory in the world

A model for ensuring safety standard

Significant improvement has been made in safety conditions. National and international reform platforms National Action Plan (NAP), Accord and Alliance have made a visible progress to ensure workplace safety.

Accord-Alliance remediation process

As of a November update on Accord’s site, the Accord noted that 90 percent of remediation for safety issues have been completed where the ninety-seven percent of Accord factories have removed lockable and collapsible gates, and 90 percent have adequate lighting in fire exists.

On the other hand, 93 percent remediation across Alliance-affiliated factories is complete and 428 factories completed all material items in their initial Corrective Action Plans (CAP), according to the 5th annual report of Alliance. In addition, Alliance declared Bangladesh RMG industry as the safest industry in the world and suggested other rival countries to follow Bangladesh’s safety initiatives.

Progress happening in a rapid way

Most of the companies now could really understand that sustainability is important for their own. Sustainability today has become the companies’ own agenda. And so they are taking some initiatives to become more sustainable. The benefits to be sustainable in all aspects- like social, environmental and economic- will be:

  • Commitment and transparency to the social and environmental cause
  • A pioneer among the similar organizations locally and globally
  • Better reputation with increasing brand value
  • Meeting the expectation of stakeholders and employees
  • Improved access of funds and capitals
  • Increased resource efficiency and reduction of waste

The owners have understood that sustainable practices reduce cost and reduce risks. Thanks to awareness activities done by many stakeholders including Textile Today.  ‘Sustainability’ is one of the core pillars of Textile Today that wants to implement the concept throughout the whole textile and apparel industry of Bangladesh. In this regard, it has launched a training and capacity building program in collaboration with Engineering Resources International (ERI) Ltd aiming to make efficient professionals for the textile industry who will run the Sustainability Department and implement Sustainability Management System (SMS) in the factories and help the same to get the social, environmental and economic benefit and make the industry sustainable in the long run.

In a world where people are struggling every moment to sustain in the current status they are living, the fashion and apparel industry, on which millions of peoples are directly dependent have some responsibilities to the society and its’ elements. Stakeholders like the governments, brands and buyers, consumer right protectors, labor right protectors, community right protectors, trade associations, financial institutions, and the factories have their own perspective of sustainability.

Tareq Amin, CEO and Founder, Textile Today

Tareq Amin, CEO, and Founder of Textile Today said, “In a world where people are struggling every moment to sustain in the current status they are living, the fashion and apparel industry, on which millions of peoples are directly dependent have some responsibilities to the society and its’ elements. Stakeholders like the governments, brands and buyers, consumer right protectors, labor right protectors, community right protectors, trade associations, financial institutions, and the factories have their own perspective of sustainability.”

Textile Today & ERI Ltd jointly launched campaign for 'Implementing Sustainability'
Figure 2: Textile Today and Engineering Resources International (ERI) Ltd jointly launched a campaign for ‘Implementing Sustainability’ in Textile & Apparel industry.

He said, “This is the time to transform this compliance department into the sustainability department. Whatever you do, you must have a sustainability department, and you must have separate responsible people for sustainability. These people should have tools, capacity, and authority to make a change. Then the innovation cycle will move.”

On the other hand, ZDHC along with bluesign® has increased their presence to promote sustainability. They have been organizing a lot of seminars over the year. First time ever Viyellatex Group has got bluesign® aggrandized certificate as a composite factory.

Read More: How sustainability practices help Envoy Textiles Limited to go on top.

ACS Textiles BD LtdEnvoy Textiles Limited (ETL) etc. are some of the sustainable factories that other factories can follow them. Sustainability issues bringing significant changes in the approach of textile chemical manufacturing as well.

Sustainability Management System, Textile Today Training

Conclusion

The industry felt mostly the lack of ‘Economic’ sustainability, as the profitability of the businesses has been significantly low. Average profitability of 5-7 percent is very poor for such a high-risk industry involving so much manual works and complexities in the supply chain. However, concerns over environmental and social issues were not diminished at all. And in future, economic issues will get more attention as discussion and initiatives are ongoing towards it.

Also Read: How ZDHC and sustainability can be implemented in Bangladesh textile industry

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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