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IAF urges key stakeholders for sustainable transformation of fashion industry

In order to protect the environment, major consumer countries including Europe are emphasizing sustainable clothing. For this, the policymakers of the clothing sector in Europe have advised working with everyone at the product producer as well as the supplier and consumer level. They said that if environmental safety is not ensured, it will be difficult for Bangladesh to retain the European market.

37th IAF World Fashion Conference-2022
Figure 1: 37th IAF World Fashion Conference organized by IAF has advised working with everyone at the product producer as well as the supplier and consumer level.

The speakers said these things at the 37th IAF World Fashion Conference organized by the International Apparel Federation (IAF) on 15 November at a hotel in Dhaka. The theme of this year’s conference is sustainable transformation of the fashion sector by bringing together brands, producers, suppliers and consumers.

“Now everybody should understand the need to come together as an industry to solve the complications and the key challenges including playing a vital role in a successful industry transformation, lessening CO2 emissions and investments in lower energy use machines and processes,” said Cem Altan, President, IAF.

He highlighted the need for holistic business sustainability throughout the apparel value chain. He said “It should be a win-win situation for all. Most importantly workers should not be forgotten. Manufacturers are facing immense trouble. To resolve this, brands, associations, manufacturers and coming together and find a way out. And IAF is creating a united voice,” IAF President added.

From Bangladesh’s apparel industry perspective, he stressed that Bangladesh’s RMG industry needs new investment and it should be more environment-friendly as many western countries and the EU are adopting green policies.

“Climate change is now a global problem,” said Cem Altan.

“Garment industry is one of the biggest sectors to reduce environmental pollution there. The European apparel market has adopted various policies with an emphasis on environmental protection. So, if we want to retain the global market, we have to be proactive in tackling climate change.”

Cem Altan added, “There are challenges not only from the environmental side but from the business side as well. Global inflation has reduced consumer demand, purchasing orders and production. As a result, it will be difficult to retain the market if the issue of environmental protection is not ensured.”

IAF President stressed, “Even If the brands and buyers don’t feel that responsibility, in Europe the Green Deal promises the biggest set of environmental legislation for the fashion industry and unfortunately at this moment brands, retailers and a big portion of the end consumers do not have a very green reputation,” he added.

37th IAF World Fashion Conference-2022-Bangladesh-BGMEA
Figure 2: International and local leaders expressed their opinion in panel discussions.

BGMEA President Faruque Hassan and Knit Garment Owners Association Fazle Shamim Ehsan gave a welcome speech on the occasion.

BGMEA President Faruque Hassan said, “Despite many challenges, we have been able to continue the trend of exports. Besides, we are moving towards sustainable production by setting up environment-friendly green factories. Still, there is room for improvement in several areas. Such as reduction of water consumption and carbon emissions in product manufacturing, reduction of waste generation, and increase of occupational health safety and transparency.

BGMEA president said regarding the huge potential for recycling waste in the country, ‘About four lakh tons of recyclable waste is produced in the country’s textile and ready-made garments sector every year. Less than 5 percent of this waste is recycled or recycled locally. On the other hand, about 60 percent of the waste is exported to various countries including India and Sweden. There these wastes are recycled as yarn and sold to us at a high price.’

Fazle Shamim Ehsan, vice president of BKMEA said, “Our factories are emphasizing reducing the environmental pollution. Through this, we are working to create a sustainable clothing sector. But for this, we have to work with everyone from the supplier to the consumer as well as the producer.

Duck Ventingham, Director General of the European Apparel and Textile Organization (Euratex) presented the keynote article at the event. The European Commission has approved the Green Deal to create a climate-neutral environment by 2050.

Duck Ventingham discussed how this could impact the readymade garments sector. He said, European countries now want to buy sustainable products; that means products that are durable, repairable and recyclable will dominate the European market.

He also said that according to the eco-friendly agreement, manufacturers and suppliers have to take product responsibility. Each product will have a digital passport or identity. By seeing this, the buyer will get an idea of whether the product is produced in a sustainable process or not. Also, producers must take responsibility for waste management. In order to maintain the clothing market in Europe, Bangladesh also needs to make products according to these issues.

A week-long mega event ‘Made in Bangladesh Week-2022’ is organized by BGMEA, to highlight the branding or positive image of Bangladesh in the garment industry. Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE) is assisting in this. As part of this, the IAF World Fashion Conference was held in Dhaka.

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