Bangladesh is one of the fastest-growing economies with a current rate of 7.1%. A major contributor to this high growth is the textile sector, accounting for 81% of the total export earning of this country. The textile industry is the bedrock of the Bangladesh economy with export close to $32 billion making it the 2nd largest exporter in the world. Back in the 1980s, the sector had the vision to tape on the export market in the USA and European countries and has since been working closely with strategic partners to strengthen its competitiveness in the global market. The textile industry, however, is a resource-hungry sector that causes groundwater depletion – the water level has fallen by three meters every year in Dhaka and its adjacent areas – and environmental pollution. To remain globally competitive and address the growing demand for green products, the industry stakeholders are actively engaged to address these environmental challenges. To face these challenges, Netherland-based International Finance Corporation (IFC) incepted the Partnership for Cleaner Textile Program (PaCT) in 2013. IFC invested $66 million in the Bangladesh textile sector and globally dispersed $1.2 billion. After the 2011 “Rana Plaza” collapse such an initiative helped Bangladesh to sustain itself in the global textile industry successfully. This initiative helps to reduce the cost of production as well as saving the environment.
According to the data of the PaCT, at least 338 factories are saving 28.7 billion liters of water along with 2.9 million megawatt-hours (MGh) of electricity over a year by adopting their program. The factories have succeeded to avoid the emission of an astounding amount of CO2, in digit, it is 558,391 tonnes.
Many industries who worked as a partner with PaCT have reaped benefits towards achieving sustainability. “Our mindset has changed as well as our process time has shortened. As a result of we able to increase our production and reduce the cost of production” Chief Production Officer of DBL Textiles Industry. Md. Sadek Ahmed says about the advantage of the PaCT program. Earlier Envoy Textiles, the leading company in Bangladesh used 85.76 liters of water for one kg denim fabric processing. But after collaboration with PaCT, only 53 liters of water is being used today for the same amount of fabric processing. Urmi Group, another garment exporter, currently consumes 60 liters of water to dye one kg knit fabrics, way down from 100 liters to 105 liters needed two years ago. Ehsanul Habib, Managing Director of Esquare group indicates the PaCT program as an eye-opener for sustainable production of textile items in Bangladesh. Since joining the PaCT program we have reduced 17% of water use resulting in 1.4 billion liters of water saving yearly. We have reduced chemical use by 12% and energy by 25% says Mr. Jabber, Managing Director of DBL textile ltd.
To sustain in the global textile market sustainability is a must adopting factor for any textile producing countries. Bangladesh is plotting its footstep to achieve the status of sustainable textile production hub in the world textile-producing country leaderboard. In this leaderboard, Bangladesh has by far the largest number of LEED factories (138) in the world, among them 39 are LEED Platinum certified and as many as 84 are LEED Gold certificate. The PaCT program truly laid the foundation of the sustainability initiatives in Bangladesh.