FRAMEWORK FOR A GREEN FUTURE- Leapfrog of Bangladesh Apparel Industry 

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Fashion is an ever-changing thing and the global fashion industry is always taking different shapes, based on customer demand and universal trends. As for now, sustainability, particularly circularity and due diligence are buzz words. One of the main reasons behind it is, that the changing pattern of climate and a huge amount of waste generated by the fashion industry has caused serious concern among relevant stakeholders.

Man-made effect of climate change is on the rise and 97% of the scientific studies concerning climate change endorsed the consensus that it is human-caused. And when it comes to the fashion industry, it is the 2nd Most polluting industry only after oil and gas. Not only that, this industry is responsible for 10% of global GHG emissions. Realizing the after-effects, dozens of fashion brands have pledged to go carbon neutral by 2050. The RMG industry of Bangladesh has been playing a major role in our economic growth and development for a long time. In the last fiscal year, we exported 42.6 billion USD to 167 countries around the world. The industry alone employs around 4 million workers and contributes 11% to our GDP and 84% of our overall export. So, there is actually no need 

to further describe how this industry is contributing to the overall economy. Now, when it comes to climate change, Bangladesh is a country which contributes the least to it but bears the most vulnerability. Extreme climatic conditions such as flood, storm, heavy rainfall and heat waves are becoming increasingly frequent recently, not only here but also across the globe. To what extent climate change will change the world is still unclear, but one thing is certain: businesses can no longer grow at the cost of the environment. The decisions taken now and in the coming years will affect the planet. The present level of carbon emissions will determine the severity of climate change in future. Green garment factories, therefore, could be the answer, the solution, to the problem of climate change. The rapid growth in the number of green garment factories in Bangladesh is a clear indication that the RMG industry is committed to a cleaner and brighter future. Bangladeshi factories are going through a period of transformation. Apparel makers are making bold and decisive decisions, like never before, to move towards environmental sustainability. As of today, the total number of Green Garment factories in Bangladesh stands at 195 and 69 of them are Platinum rated. More than 550 factories are in the process of getting the certification, which indicates the number will increase heavily in the coming years. These buildings are climate and environment-friendly, which reduces or eliminates negative impacts, creates positive impacts and improves our quality of life     

  The salient features of Green Building are: 

-Efficient use of energy, water and other resources

 -Use of renewable energy, such as solar energy

 -Pollution and waste reduction measures –

Re-use and recycling protocol 

-Good indoor environmental air quality

 -Use of non-toxic, ethical and sustainable materials  

  BGMEA, as the apex trade body of Apparel manufacturing in Bangladesh, is working in collaboration with several organizations, brands and development partners to ensure that industry moves towards becoming a more dynamic one. Such an initiative is- PaCT (Partnership for cleaner textile), a joint initiative between BGMEA and IFC. With every $1 invested, saving of 26 m3 water/ year, 0.2 ton/ year GHG emission, 2 MWh/year energy and 23m3/ year has been ensured, as a result of this project. BGMEA has also published its own “Sustainability Report 2020”, which is unique of its kind as it is the only sustainability report published by any such organization in Bangladesh. An SDG report, combining inputs from 47 factories has also been incorporated and been published which highlights the actions of the private sector contributing to SDG financing in Bangladesh. Apart from these initiatives, 

BGMEA has partnered with the Ministry of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh to link local heritage materials like Jamdani, Khadi,Muslin etc. with the international export markets. Fusion clothes suitable for Western and European markets will be designed through this project and local weavers, fashion designers and students will be trained up so that they can explore further in this arena. With only around 7% market share, the future holds immense potential for Bangladesh RMG industry. Through a comprehensive strategy, we can unlock that compartment. Academic involvement in terms of research in the arena of suitability and capacity building of our workers are two major pin point of that strategy. Moreover, we need to do the match-making initiatives for availing funds for sustainable initiatives, as it will incentivize more sustainable production. Along with that, there’s no scope to forget that sustainable purchasing practice is a must. It is not only the manufacturers responsibility to ensure diligence in the whole process, rather it needs a joint and collaborative effort from everyone brands, development partners, consumers and everyone associated with it. Bangladesh government is also very much committed to address the issue of climate change. The Government of Bangladesh has revised the NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) and declared to reduce carbon emissions by 21.85% by 2030. Currently, there are benefits for the Green factories in terms of reduced corporate tax rate of 10%, instead of 12%. However, additional assistance from the Government like deducted tax rate on importing machineries and raw materials necessary for running green factories will expedite the green revolution in our RMG industry.