Plastic pollution in this livable planet is like fast-spreading cancer. Affecting all segments – environmental, aquatic, living beings, and especially humans. Even with the growing call for sustainability, the efforts and pledges – the reuse of discarded plastic is insignificant.
Globally, it is estimated around 1.75 trillion of garments are sold annually (According to blog.kooshoo.com). Say, if just 10% of garments are separately bagged (a very conservative estimate), that means 175 billion, single-use plastic bags are used by the fashion industry yearly creating a titanic pollution scenario. Consumers and brands alike are looking for a sustainable alternative to alleviate this scenario.
Expo Accessories (Pvt) Ltd has solutions to go fully sustainable in the garment accessories market. They are currently producing 100 percent biodegradable and compostable products.
The US-based company, specializing in bio-based and compostable packaging solutions, manufacturing products include poly bags, shirt clips, collar supports, hang tags, hangers, all single-use products like straw, tray, Garbage bag, bin bag, vegetable bag, cups, shopping bag, etc.
Expo Accessories makes its products from renewable raw materials that are completely biodegraded in compost. They are certified to International Standards such as ISO 17088, ASTM D 6400 and EN 13432. They are also RSL compliant and do not contain any heavy metals.
Expo Accessories has been producing biodegradable packaging since 2007 from the natural source material – corn or maze. They manufacture all kinds of trims and accessories with the aim of sustainability with a daily capacity of around 1 million pieces.
Md Enamul Haque, Managing Director, Expo Accessories Limited shared, “The consumers and buyers are looking for sustainable alternatives. To sustain in the business, Bangladesh textile and apparel manufacturers must have to adopt this ‘green concept’. From woven label, printed label to hooks and hangers – all can be recycled sustainably.”
“And we produce all garment accessories in a biodegradable and compostable way. This is an initiative to create awareness and make a dent in the biggest challenge of this century,” told Enamul Haque.
Usually, a discarded plastic item lasts for hundreds of years without decomposing in soil. On the other hand, Expo Accessories made garment accessories bag has a shelf life around 12 to 15 months, meaning bags will biodegrade within this phase.
Key product features include:
– Reduced carbon footprint in comparison to conventional plastics
– 100% biodegradable and compostable through industrial compost
One of the key components of this bag is reduced carbon footprint in contrast to conventional plastics and 100% biodegradability and compostability.
The polybag is certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 17088), which specifies the requirements for the labeling of plastic products as ‘compostable’ or ‘biodegradable’. The bag is also compliant with Restricted Substance List or RSL, meaning it does not contain any heavy metal.
“We are producing recycled products such as woven label, satin and TR printed label, sewing thread, hanger, polybag, etc. We are working on the process of achieving GRS certificate for recycling.”
Besides garment accessories products Expo Accessories have a plan to expand their compostable plastic product range in other sectors like in the medical sector – pathological sample collection tubes, medicine capsule covers, etc.
Nowadays in the USA or in Europe, oxo-biodegradable plastic products are also known as biodegradable plastic. This type of plastic uses 2-3% additives with conventional plastic and after-a-while split apart in microparticles and end up in the environment.
The disaster of this oxo-biodegradable technology is, it is not reusable or recyclable. Creating a dangerous negative branding of biodegradable-compostable plastic products.
Enamul Haque explained, “Generally, brands-retailers and garment manufacturers sometimes mix the oxo-biodegradable plastic products with our sustainable biodegradable-compostable plastic products.”
“I will say to the brands and garment manufacturers not to fall in this confusion. Rather know the differences clearly and see all the product certifications then make your educated decision,” he requested.
“If it is a naturally biodegradable-compostable bag then the amount of plastic in the product is zero.”
To upheld the sustainability nature, Expo Accessories started building a new green LEED-certified factory in Gazipur. Other sustainable features like WTP, solar energy, etc. will be included there.
Customers and export scenario
Expo Accessories is working with more than 30 customers all over the globe including international brands like Levi’s, Splash, Bossini, Babyshop, Myntra, Benettono, Max, etc. It is currently operating over 40000 square feet with over 200 workers. It has a turnover of around 10 million dollars per year.
“By 2020 we will be expanding further in size by shifting to our new premises which would be the Lead certified green factory with over 158400 square feet,” said Enamul Haque.
“We are already exporting these biodegradable bags to UK, Europe, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mauritius, Saudi Arabia, etc. countries. Every day we are receiving huge orders from around the globe. I hope that in the near future sell will increase many times as some of the biggest retailers and brands are showing their interest to work with Expo Accessories,” mentioned Enamul Haque.
There are two types of challenges: 1st of all the conventional poly bags, biodegradable poly bags are a bit expensive. So, the factory is having some price issues with customers.
Enamul Haque said, “We are hoping that if the Bangladesh government provides subsidy on these green products and banks provide loans with lower interest rate then this obstacle can be dealt easily.”
Secondly, raw material sourcing from abroad is quite challenging. Currently, Expo Accessories is sourcing raw materials from a central storehouse of India. Sourcing alternative renewable raw materials locally can be the best solution, opined Enamul Haque.
Simultaneously, there is no incentive from the Bangladesh government on this new sustainable garment accessories product. An incentive declaration from the govt. will encourage investors to come forward and invest in this business.
“The non-bonded plastic products exporters get 10% incentive from the govt. and bonded facility factories do not get this incentive benefit. I will urge the govt. to provide a 10% incentive for all the bonded and non-bonded exporters alike,” Expo Accessories owner stated.
As more and more apparel brands and retailers are ordering these sustainable accessories from Expo Accessories, an incentive will undoubtedly boost the business and valuable foreign currency inflow.
Every day in Dhaka city alone, around 20 million polybags are used, according to environmental organization Poribesh Bachao Andolon (Poba). Though the govt. has taken steps to boost the use of biodegradable packaging such as jute bags, but polythene bags are still omnipresent.
Enamul Haque urged the other entrepreneurs to come forward and start this new sustainable venture to upheld Bangladesh’s effort towards ensuring global sustainability.
“I am ensuring that any other entrepreneur needs my assistance to set up this sustainable garment accessories business, my doors will be always open for them,” Enamul Haque concluded.