Do you think transforming the existing ‘Compliance Departments’ into ‘Sustainability Departments’ is the way to implement sustainability in the textile and apparel industry? How this transformation could be done?
All the textile and apparel industry has ‘Compliance Department’. In recent times Bangladesh has done a revolution in terms of compliance and eventually, the industry has become one of the safest textile and apparel industry in the world. But at the same time, the factories are suffering for profitability crisis. The transformation achieved in social and building safety and the improvements done in the environment is not being well reflected in the economics of the companies. To achieve sustainability holistically, efforts should be taken in all three pillars Economic, Social and Environmental of ‘Sustainability’. In this regard, do you think transforming existing ‘Compliance Departments’ into ‘Sustainability Departments’ is the way to implement sustainability in the textile and apparel industry? How this transformation could be done?
Maher Abdullah Al, CEO, Fakir Fashion Ltd
The question of fair price and sustainable business model is being heard among the RMG community which is sounding better as first step towards the solution. Some raised the question, when we are going to get a better price as we have completed the 100 % remediation in our factories in terms of structural, fire and other safety scopes among other social compliance (need to do much more here yet within scopes). It is time to realize all these safety measures and so-called compliance factors have nothing to do with fair price or profitability. Let’s think! then another point of view, without a safe building, happy workers and proper working condition – how one can we even sustain production?
But to achieve a better profitability, one has to revisit own business units irrespective of the production facility to the corporate office, upgrade the basic things and look for ‘excellence’ to move forward. Again, ‘innovation’ is the key here to excel, and to increase profitability.
By making green buildings, green factories and ensuring all the safety measures we had surely accomplished a great job but is this bringing any benefits in terms of prices from customers yet? On the other hand, customers are facing a yet bigger challenge to stay in business too. It is time to start a sustainable joint venture or bigger co-operation among local suppliers, all stakeholders need to find a sustainable business model by cutting all unnecessary fats. We do not have to go far to learn this – let’s just watch how Amazon has chopped the unwanted wings and ensured the delivery to the door stops of the Clients right from the machine. For the end consumers, it is ‘ Oven fresh – healthy products’. They did not check the factory yet – green or not but checked the price tags and loved the speed!
Kazy Mohammad Iqbal Hossain, South Asia Regional Sustainability Manager, Lindex HK Ltd., Bangladesh Liaison Office.
Compliance is something, which requires money from a company but may not give anything in return, the reason is simple as it’s all about the legal requirements to set up an industry. Everybody has to keep in mind, it is not enough to just meet the basic legal requirements, more needs to be done to make the organization popular with skilled workers. Once, the factory will be known as one of the safest and most reliable workplace in the market, then efficiencies of the employee, workers, and stakeholder will be increased which in turn will give better outcome and the factory will realize profitability.
Transforming compliance to Sustainability will increase the profitability for sure. However, the scope of work for the sustainability team should not be the same as of compliance department, it has to come out of the box. The ideal scope of work for Sustainability team would start from beyond compliance. So, to me, the Sustainability team of a factory will only get enough things to do once all the compliance issues are solved. And of course, the skill set of the professional is required, who can work on Energy, water, chemical efficiencies as well as building the culture of cost saving in all possible ways like print both sides of the paper. And to get a most desirable result, the Sustainability Team need to work hand in hand with the production department. A clear communication with all concern department of the factory as well as with the stakeholders will ensure efficiencies, transparency, and accountability, which will increase the profitability.
Faiaz Rahman, Director, Urmi Group
Sustainability is one of the major pillars and most of the factories, brands, and suppliers are working on it. As a manufacturer definitely compliance department will transform into the sustainable department, we trying to save our inventory cost to sustain, because day-by-day production cost is increasing but the price is decreasing. Now, Bangladesh has the highest number of green factories in the world. More skilled set of professionals are required, who can work on Energy, water, chemical efficiencies as well as building the culture of cost saving for sustainable business.
Ayesha Shefa, Director of Sustainability, Simco Spinning and Textiles Ltd
If the compliance departments become more manageable, sustainability will more likely be achievable. If a company wishes to be sustainable they usually benefit in many ways- for instance, better public perception and enhanced cost savings- as toxic substances and hazardous waste are removed from manufacturing processes. It is a goal worth working for because not only companies will benefit themselves but also the three pillars “Economics, Social and the Environment will be benefitted.”
Companies can achieve this by taking the necessary steps depending on which sector they are in. Making and encouraging to make ECO-FRIENDLY choices is the first step towards sustainability.
Sabina Yasmin Shurovi, Manager, Sustainable Development, LBL Bangladesh Ltd
Yes, it is going on the perfect way. A lot of factories/textile are implementing LEED certification, most of the factories/textiles are now implementing modern technology in regards of energy saving, water recycling method, heat transferring, transform the chemical ETP to biological ETP. In the production history, organic textile production growth in Bangladesh is now 32% from the conventional cotton.
Transforming sustainable business practices means to create strategies that preserve the long-term viability of People, Plant, and Profit, the proverbial triple bottom line. Sustainability requires that we see the world as an integrated system that connects businesses to society and the environment through both space and time. Pollution in one part of the world affects others thousands of miles away. Socially responsible corporate strategies impact communities not only today but also leave lasting impressions for generations to come.
If the compliance department can make sure of the above activities easily can transform its pattern to sustainability. Compliance department’s Head, responsible Compliance officer, Welfare officer, Safety officer they all are can play roles as follows. They can Implement changes and communicate to the employee effectively. They can make sure creating strategies to make the workplace greener. They can conduct effective training gradually to all factories/textiles employees on sustainability and transfer of knowledge. They should attend national/ international seminars on Sustainability to provide proper roles and responsibilities and its authority of implementation.
Compliance department’s responsible persons can measure the factories/textile’s sustainability performance. They can take control of the development, implementation, promotion, and monitoring of environmental strategies within a factory/textile. They can manage the budget, liaising with marketing departments to promote a sustainability strategy, and communicating plans. Since the compliance department has the sufficient knowledge and skills, so no separate department is needed to be in.