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Ignorance is no longer an excuse to commit a sustainable future

Many people from different streams of business or politics tend to ignore the importance of a sustainable world. Most of the brands are yet to act to the extent it to promote more awareness supporting sustainable initiatives widely.

sustainable apparel future

Thus, the consumers are confused, however, recently few strong movements and observations from different walk of society are sending a clear message to the world.

The Swedish Fashion Council has canceled Stockholm Fashion Week to focus on launching a more sustainable alternative. It was supposed to be held on the 27-29 August, 2019.

On the 2nd May 2019, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) the official advisor to the UK Government has released “Net-Zero” the UK’s contribution to stop global warming. The UK has set an ambitious target to reduce its greenhouse gas emission to zero by 2050.

In another event, the world has witnessed the biggest march in Brussels which is participated by around 275,000 citizens together in the “Claim the Climate” march on Dec 2, 2018. The march represents a wide public mandate to Belgium’s government to take strong decision supporting sustainable initiatives.

Denmark new Prime Minister Mele Frederiksen (41), the youngest Prime Minister of the country vowed to cut 70% of Denmark’s carbon emission by 2030. The goal is quite challenging. She also gave direction to ban new Diesel and petrol car by 2030 to expand offshore wind power widen electrification to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Dr. Dayne Visser, Antwerp Management School states that According to UNEP, our global carbon emission will have to be 55% lower by 2030 to avoid world tipping over into dangerous climate change by exceeding the 1.5-degree warming threshold. A healthy economy and society can only exist within planetary boundaries and we are severely testing those boundaries.

According to statista.com, the global apparel market is expected to be $1.5 Trillion US dollars in 2020. Over 80 billion pieces of new clothing are made each year. That’s at least 10 pieces of new clothing for every man, woman, and child on the entire planet every year.

global apparel market

What is even more incredible is the amount of energy and resource required to make all of those goods. Edgexpo.com reports apparel and textile industry waste are as follows:

  • Nearly 20% of global wastewater is produced by the fashion industry.
  • 20,000 litres of water are needed to produce one kilogram of cotton; equivalent to a single t-shirt and pair of jeans.
  • It takes more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture a T-shirt and a pair of jeans

As of today, so far 36 world most renowned clothing and textile companies have pledged to use 100% sustainable cotton by 2025 to address this alarming concern.

The brands that have committed to the 100% sustainable cotton pledges by 2015 are:

Asos, EileenFisher, Green Fibres, H&M, IKEA, Kering, Levis, Lindex, M&S, Nike, Sainsburry, F&F at Tesco, Woolworths. Adidas, A-Z, Bikbok, Burberry,  Burton, Snowboard, Carlings, Coyuchi, Cubus, Day like this, Dressman, Hanky Panky, House of Fraser, Indegenenous Design, KappAhl, Katmandu, Mantis world, Metawear, Otto Group, prAna, SkunkFunk, Timberland, Urban, Volt and Wow.

100% sustainable cotton brands

Apart from the usage of sustainable cotton, some brands are ahead with a brand-specific target to achieve a specific goal. Patagonia, Adidas, Levis, Rebook, Nike, Zara, H&M, PVH and VF are in that league.

In summary, all these indicators are showing a very strong move towards sustainable sourcing in the near future. It’s not a new concept or buzz word anymore.

Sustainable apparels sourcing is a definite criterion that CPOs would consider in their strategic buying decisions moving forward along with cost and capacity.

Good news is that Bangladesh ranked 2nd in sustainable society index among top four apparel sourcing countries.

Sustainable Society Index Rank
China Bangladesh India Vietnam
Human well- being 85 81 87 71
Environmental well being 116 62 72 66
Economic Well Being 38 73 74 66
Final Score 4 2 3 1

As it indicates China scores lowest in Sustainable Society Index ranking While Vietnam is ranking 1st and Bangladesh 2nd but China has already taken the initiative to join global sustainable effort towards green supply chain.

By 2020 China will register 26,000 chemicals with compliance information. In 2018 a lot of factories were shut down due to the law of environment protection tax. Next followed by the law of soil pollution and prevention and control may put a lot of factories in the challenge again who are causing a negative impact to its local environment.

Total apparels retail market by region and participation of top production countries

North America – 26%

Europe – 28%

South America – 5%

Asia Pacific – 3%

Rest of the world – 38%

Participation of China, Bangladesh, India and Vietnam to USA and Europe imports:

USA Imports Europe Imports
China 33.2% 43%
Bangladesh 6.3% 11%
Vietnam 14.5% 2.7%
India 21.5% 3.6%

Bangladesh is well-positioned in the global market in terms of cost, capacity and sustainability.

But considering all these aspects Bangladesh is still an unsung hero. It has a huge space to promote its achievements, increase the percentage of penetration to the bigger retail markets.

Kyaw Sein Thay Dolly
Figure: Kyaw Sein Thay Dolly, Managing Director, Cloths “R” Us Ltd.

It is inevitable that the traditional set up of the supply chain is now changing. The global approach toward sourcing is now entering into the new era which makes most of the brands to re-think their sourcing and production model.

As a country, Bangladesh can showcase its strength in all key criteria’s as a production-focused country while more and more brands are re-thinking their sourcing strategy as well for the future to cope up with the future need. It’s an important transition that cannot be ignored or by-passed.

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