How Bangladesh can reap benefits from green factories?

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Environmental sustainability is the most important issue in the current phase of industrialization. The sustainability of the RMG industry has come to the fore after two major industrial disasters—the 2012 Tazreen Fashion Fire incident and the 2013 Savar Rana Plaza Collapse.

Afterward, Bangladesh RMG Industry which accounts for 84 percent of the country’s export earnings had to face criticism for lagging in implementing sustainability in the factories. Consequently, foreign buyers are now focusing on eco-friendly ways of production.

Figure: As of last September 2020, 144 installations in Bangladesh have received LEED certificates.

Taking the buyers’ demand and requirements into account, owners of the garment factories have given priority to the implementation of the guidelines issued by the world-renowned organizations for eco-friendly production. The goals of sustainable developments include cleaner water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, climate action and responsible consumption and production.

On the economic front, green production is financially viable to reduce costs through streamlined production processes. Furthermore, It emphasizes reducing overall waste in factories through water recycling, instilling material efficiency levels and controlling air pollution.

The external benefits offered by the green factories are eye-opening—from ensuring drastic improvements in clean water accessibility to reducing pollution levels in surrounding areas. Green production brings social benefits for people living around factories.

It’s time factories’ owners in our country moved towards green production and helped the government in implementing environmental protection schemes.

RMG stakeholders are providing different assistance including financial support to small and medium-sized factories to go green. So, the RMG industry is going a step further by seeking to establish a reputation for environmental excellence.

“In recent years, a silent revolution has occurred in the Bangladesh RMG industry. It is Bangladeshi RMG producers who established the world’s highest-rated LEED Platinum denim factory, knit factory, washing plant and textile mill.”

Md. Siddiqur Rahman, Chairman of Sterling Stocks & Securities

“In recent years, a silent revolution has occurred in the Bangladesh RMG industry. It is Bangladeshi RMG producers who established the world’s highest-rated LEED Platinum Denim factory, Knit factory, Washing Plant and Textile mill,” Md. Siddiqur Rahman, Chairman of Sterling Stocks & Securities said.

As of last September 2020, 144 installations in Bangladesh have received LEED certificates. LEED Platinum 41, Glode 6, Silver 14 and 2 certified certificates have been received. Of the 144 certified establishments, 125 are in the garment and textile sector.

Benefits of green building:

According to World Green Building Council, a green building is a building that in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Elements of Green Buildings are Materials, Energy System, Water Management and Health Components.

USGBC is a membership-based non-profit organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built, and operated.

“Sustainability is no more an option, it is a need, and it should be inclusive. In South Asia, Bangladesh has taken the lead in green initiatives,” said GBCI in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East Markets.

Compliance factories in many countries are implementing several best practices to improve their efficiency and sustainability. Some best practices are:

Rainwater harvesting, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (3R) of water, Cogeneration, Condensate recovery boiler, Water efficient dyes and chemicals, Use of renewable energy (solar panel), Prismatic skylight, etc.

Industry insiders are under impression that the businesspeople practicing green garment production should be compensated by the consumers and everybody should ensure responsible business for sustainability in development.

Bangladesh is now struggling to cope with the deficiency of electricity and suffering from a shortage of water. Green buildings can help us in this regard ensuring efficient usage of water and energy.

Although the buyers do not pay extra for green buildings, such initiative helps a lot in branding the country or the company. Besides branding, green technology contributes to reducing energy usage by 40 percent and water consumption by over 30 percent. Green buildings emit less carbon protecting the environment from widespread pollution.

Many factories are now going green in the country to impress the growing tribe of eco-sensitive international retailers, and in the process, grab more work orders. The factory owners, especially those who are expanding their operations, opt for green buildings. The increased construction of green factories will increase the export growth of garment items from Bangladesh.

Green initiatives will help garment makers going for high-end products in building their confidence as LEED certification signifies the practice of good compliance and environmentally safe procedures.

The other direct benefits that green buildings bring are enhancement of the image of the factory, protection of health, workplace safety and higher productivity of the workers. With the special architectural design, a LEED-certified factory building ensures fewer industrial accidents, like fires, causing fewer casualties.

Environmentally-managed clothing factories having an edge in the outsourcing market differentiates Bangladesh from its major regional rivals—Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. Bangladesh is now home to the highest number of platinum-rated garment factories in the world.

Sector people said green building initiatives undertaken for marketing reasons in Bangladesh influence the confidence of retailers. The retailers do not ask so many questions if they find that the goods were produced in a factory housed in a green building.

Global multinationals who on many occasions criticized Bangladeshi factories’ owners in the past without providing much support have been working to improve sustainability.

The ways the foreign brands can support the green growth of the production are giving recognition of the quality of what Bangladeshi firms produce, financially assisting the transition of the industry towards green production techniques and at the same time, paying firms their due share when it comes to purchases.

On its part, Bangladesh is now implementing environmental sustainability in its economic structures with limited capacity. The country is not at fault completely and so, it cannot shoulder responsibility for all problems the RMG sector is now facing.

Western retailers have given assurance said they would source apparel items in increased volumes from Bangladesh provided that there is sustainability in production here. The global stakeholders must shoulder responsibility for making supply chains more complaint.

“The buyers should ensure sustainability in their supply chain through their purchase practices,” said Atiqul Islam, Business Leader And Mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation.

People of all levels must work shoulder by shoulder to avoid further man-made calamities (occur due to climate change) and higher industrial pollution.

“We need to look after our planet as we do not have another planet to live in. Sustainable production of goods can help greatly in taking care of our planet,” said a leader of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

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