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‘Jhuta’ processing of Bangladesh’s clothing industry, a unique example of sustainable solid waste management

Waste or ‘Jhuta’ of the garment industry seems to be only garbage in the eyes of many, but for those who are involved in this ‘Jhuta’ business is showing its vast potentiality inside & outside of the country. Fabric or fiber cutting wastes coming out from garment making industries are well known as ‘Jhuta’ in Bangladesh.

Every day, about 550 tonnes of garment waste is being exported abroad from the port of Chittagong. On the other hand, cotton, yarn or even clothes are now being manufactured from these wastage. Many people earn their livelihood by involving with ‘Jhuta’ processing or Jhuta business.

‘Jhuta’ processing of Bangladesh’s clothing industry, a unique example of sustainable solid waste management

Figure 1: A Jhuta shop located in Mirpur.

In a small piece of cloth or in one box, the garment industry’s waste has been formed a large & promising business. This business started in the garment factory.

Mahmud Hasan Khan, Managing Director of Rising Group said, “The clothes come in the form of rolls in the factory. After marker, we put the patterns according to the marker. Then we sew the necessary part and drop the remaining parts. We store the dropped parts. After that, the local people collect it. In that case, some factories get some money and some factories get no money. This is sold as ‘Jhuta’ sacks. One sack is sold for 1 hundred taka. These ‘Jhuta’ is reaching in different stores through different mediums. Most of the time cotton spinning mills are the big destination of these garments waste.”

Jhut Patti of Mirpur, Dhaka, is the largest area for Jhut Business in Bangladesh. Jinnah Sheikh, who is involved in this business said, “Small piece of clothes are the raw materials of my business. Any piece of cloth we can recycle. There is a huge demand for t-shirts wastes.”

BGMEA Vice-President Mahmud Hasan Khan said, “There are two categories of ‘Jhuta’, one is from woven fabric another is from knit fabric. The price of ‘Woven Jhuta’ is low but the price of ‘Knit Jhuta’ is comparatively high. Because, after reprocessing of ‘Knit Jhuta’ it is easy to bring to cotton or fiber stages. They are sold as an alternative to cotton in the local market. The advantage is that cotton prices are high but these are low. Those who are low income people, gets benefit from this.”

‘Jhuta’ traders say that around 50 lakh people have their livelihood with this business. There are more women workers than men in the shops. Such a worker, Majeda Begum said, “We bring different types of ‘Jhuta’ here. Then, we separate those in 2 categories; the big pieces and small pieces. We have different types of clothes to separate them. We work here to get 3 thousand taka a month. Experienced people get 4 thousand taka”.

‘Jhuta’ worker segregating big pieces and small pieces of ‘Jhuta’. 2

Figure 2: ‘Jhuta’ worker segregating big pieces and small pieces of ‘Jhuta’.

The smallest parts of ‘Jhuta’ are being recycled to yarn. Yarn is made with old-day spinning machines in some stores in Mirpur. These recycled yarn have great demand to local tailors & sometimes these recycled yarns go back to garment factories as well. Smaller mashes or fiber are being used in producing mMattresses and felts.

Those who are involved in the trade of ‘Jhuta’ says that there are more possibilities to this waste. More value added material could be produced and exported to the world. Mohil Hossain Bhutto from Ashulia, involved in the ‘Jhuta’ export said that the waste of 20 container volume (40 cubic feet per container) is being exported abroad from Chittagong port every day. Price of every container is worth of about 15 thousand dollars. That means, earning around 25 crores of taka on each day. On the other side, many more waste cloths are exported to India mostly by lad ports. There is no proper calculation of it.

Bhutto said, “Many people still do not understand the price of the penny of ‘Jhuta’ in Bangladesh. We recycled it to make fiber. By making fiber, we export it to Europe. These jhuta goes to almost 40 countries of the world. But there is no way to properly use of it in Bangladesh. Everyone wants to be a rich man by garments business, because of which nobody does not look at the ‘Jhuta’ sector.”

Large quantity of Jhuta is being transported by truck.

Figure 3: Large quantity of Jhuta is being transported by truck.

Worldwide recycled products have different dignity. BGMEA vice-president Mahmud Hasan Khan said, “Bangladeshi Jhuta made products can get this status. Only big brands need to be associated with it to achieve this.”

A Jhuta worker Hafsu is sorting good quality piece of cloth to make collar for shirt. 3

Figure 4: A Jhuta worker Hafsu is sorting good quality piece of cloth to make collar for shirt.

Junk or other business related activities in Bangladesh are going on unbounded. Due to the association with the dirt, the educators do not want to come to this profession. Director of the Cutting Cloth Merchandise Society in Mirpur, Selim said, “With this business, we are working in cleaning garbage of the garment industry. But Alas! We often have to be harassed. This business is between legal and illegal conditions.”

Stack of sorted good quality piece of cloth to make shirt’s collar

Figure 5: Stack of sorted good quality piece of cloth to make shirt’s collar

In Bangladesh, regarding ‘Jhuta’ trading, often news breaks out involving fights, local influential mobs, murders etc. Few investigation report claims that there are approximately 11 thousands organized criminals who have become desperate across the country including capital. Only in Narayanganj, there are 15 groups and each group has minimum 100 criminals. This is not good sign for this business.

Many people are going to work in the dirty shop for their livelihood, to recycle wastage and trying to build a business which can bring foreign money. But, if our government does not give backing to this business and does not take any action to the terrorists, this business will always remain out of the light.

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