The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to end poverty, protect the planet, ensure peace and prosperity for all by 2030.
Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), Bangladesh University of Textiles (BUTEX), and BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology (BUFT) are working together with Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) where they will work with two SDG goals: (GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation), Infrastructure (GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production).
GCRF is the UK’s official development assistance (ODA) that supports cutting-edge research works to address the challenges faced by developing countries focused on the UN’s sustainable development goals. GCRF has recently developed a framework for sustainable fashion and textile production in Bangladesh and has launched research on zero-waste pattern cutting in mass production. Yesterday, a virtual roundtable discussion on “Sustainable Fashion and Textile Production Structure and Its Implementation in Bangladesh” was arranged by GCRF.
The special guest of the virtual Roundtable Discussion were Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun MP; Professor Md. Abul Kashem, Vice Chancellor, BUTEX, Dr. S.M. Mahfuzur Rahman, Vice Chancellor, BUFT, Muzaffar U. Siddique, Founder Chairman, Board of Trustees, BUFT.
And the panelists for the project were MD Abul kalam Azad, Project Leader, Sustainable material sourcing & green energy, Decathlon Bangladesh Office; Afsana Ferdousy, Senior Product Developer & Designer, Next Sourcing Ltd. Bangladesh Office; Abu Yousuf, National Operations Manager, ILO- Better Work Programme, Bangladesh; Dr René Van Berkel, UNIDO Representative & Head, Regional Office in India; Dr. MD. Kamrul Islam, Project Director, Bangladesh-Turkey-ISDB Project on Enhancing Capacity in Cotton Varieties Development, Cotton Development Board, Bangladesh; Engr. Sayed Farid Ahammed Managing Director, Unique Washing and Dyeing Ltd.; Engr. Shafiqur Rahman, President, ITET, Bangladesh.
Dr. Julfikar Haider moderated the whole event and Dr. Abu Sadat Muhammad Sayem presented the frameworks and research. The main purpose of cutting zero-waste patterns is to increase the efficiency in the cutting section up to 90-95% from the current efficiency of 80-85%.
Maximum efficiency of cutting-section of garment sector in Bangladesh is 85% which produced 60 billion meters of waste fabric and 22-338 billion kg of carbon equivalent in 2012. But more than 98% of fabric can be used by Zero-Waste Pattern Cutting (ZWPC). ZWPC is an approach, a concept, and a design philosophy that aims to utilize the whole area of fabric within a given length for making one or more garments.
MD Abul kalam Azad said, “Manufacturers are struggling with efficiency, if the project is fully developed for implementation, it will be a great success for the manufacturers especially for the small players”.
A cost-effective project like ZWPC may be acceptable to stakeholders but practicing a sustainable framework is a difficult task.
Shwapna Bhowmick, Country Manager at Marks and Spencer, Bangladesh said, “Implementation will be the most difficult part of this framework because all stakeholders are needed to bring together. Also, sustainable thinking is something caught overnight. Top manufacturers should come forward to implement sustainable projects as role models”.
The sustainable framework presented by the GCRF provides a toolkit to help achieve the UN SDGs in fashion and textile production.
UN SDG 12 asks member countries to have sustainable consumption and production national action plan. Bangladesh SDG tracker acknowledges this but doesn’t indicate its existence. Bangladesh Eighth Five Year Plan (July 2020 – June 2025) emphasizes promoting sustainable consumption and production. The industry needs an easy-to-follow toolkit to reduce GHG emissions by 50% to stay at the 1.5°C pathway.
These frameworks will be easy for manufacturers to follow. Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun said, “Bangladesh has always supported the UN STG goals and these projects will help the two UN STG goals”. “BUFT & BUTEX has always worked for the prosperity of Bangladesh’s textile and garment industry, the largest export sector”, he added.
These frameworks will be difficult to implement. Sustainability always has a cost. Buyers are forcing manufacturers towards sustainability but are not willing to pay a fair price. Professor Md. Abul Kashem said, “Textile manufacturers in Bangladesh are building green factories and LEED-certified factories but buyers are not willing to pay the price for that sustainable investment”. The costs of a LEED-certified factory will be higher than that of a non-LEED-certified factory.
Abu Yousuf said, “To succeed in this project we need a financial framework for sustainable production and government framework to create skilled manpower”.
Dr. René Van Berkel, UNIDO Representative & Head, Regional Office in India said, “The system needs to be improved and sustainability initiatives need to be taken and UN would like to work on the promotion of implication”.