The world’s highest-rated green denim, knitwear, washing and textile mills are all in Bangladesh. Of the top 11 LEED platinum-certified factories, eight are from Bangladesh. So far, 67 garment factories have achieved LEED certification. Of them, 17 are platinum rated and 37 are gold rated. Some 280 factories are under process for LEED certification. Globally Bangladesh is second only to China in apparel export volumes. Factory owners have invested in better working conditions. In the ’80s, sweatshop-like conditions and child labor were a sad reality. Now children are no longer employed in garment factories although child labor is prevalent in informal economic work.
The garment sector is accelerating its greening and becoming known for its sustainability initiatives. Bangladesh’s gross domestic product has grown steadily at six per cent in the past decade, with the last two years’ growth being around seven per cent. Industrial share of the GDP is 29 per cent, and the lion’s share of that comes from the garment industry. The garment industry has about 4,000 active factories, employing 4.4 million workers, 80 per cent of whom are women. The sector has spawned backward and forward linkage industries. About 50 million Bangladeshis depend on the apparel sector for a living.