Bangladesh has a mammoth opportunity by recycling the cotton waste as readymade garment (RMG) factories and textile mills generate a vast amount of leftovers of the main raw material. According to a study, carried out by the Circular Fashion Partnership, Bangladesh can save $500 million annually.
At a recent virtual discussion, the findings of the study were exposed.
The research has found that in 2019, Bangladesh produced around 577,000 tons of waste just from the RMG and fabrics mills of which almost half (250 thousand tons) was 100% pure cotton waste. It is assessed that garment factories in Bangladesh could sell this 100% cotton waste to the recycling market for up to 100 million USD.
According to a press release of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), at present, Bangladesh is greatly dependent on the import of textile fiber. In 2019, the country imported 1.63 million ton s of staple cotton fiber (with a value estimated to be 3.5 billion USD). Based on the Circular Fashion Partnership findings, if just the 100% cotton waste was recycled within Bangladesh, imports could decrease by around 15%, therefore saving $500 million that would have been spent on cotton imports.
Speaking at the event, Faruque Hassan, president of the BGMEA, said, “The sustenance of the planet is now at risk, and we cannot stay indifferent. We have to shift the linear economic model to circular.”
“This is the future, and we are committed to closing the loop while achieving our strategic growth targets,” he said.
Federica Marchionni, chief executive officer of the Global Fashion Agenda, said, “For fashion to continue to prosper within planetary boundaries, we need to embrace the opportunities of a circular economy urgently.”
A circular economy is a systemic approach to economic development designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment.
“Using the Reverse Resources technology platform, we have been able to map participants’ textile waste to grasp its scale and quantify the economic opportunity of closing the loop,” Marchionni said.
Nin Castle, Chief Project Officer of Reverse Resources, said Bangladesh produced arguably the most recyclable textile waste of any apparel-producing country.
With the emergence of new and improved versions of existing recycling technologies, Bangladesh has a huge opportunity to scale its local recycling capacity and reduce its dependency on virgin raw materials.
Castle added, “If a recycling industry is fostered now, it will enable the country not only to enjoy the obvious benefits of cost and carbon footprint reduction but also gain a massive competitive edge.”
Leading policy-makers and fashion industry experts were present at the event hosted by the platform, a project that promotes recycled materials in fashion.
The Circular Fashion Partnership is a cross-sectorial project led by the Global Fashion Agenda, in partnership with Reverse Resources and the BGMEA.
The project purposes to support the development of the textile recycling industry in Bangladesh by capturing and directing post-production fashion waste back into the production of new fashion products.