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Impact of COVID-2019 on Sustainability of Textiles Industry

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Md. Nurun Nabi

Sustainability of the garments factory is the most significant issue of the present times as well as the COVID Period. As the global business environment is changing rapidly with requirements of the need and wants of the present times. Now the discussions are changing as the environment of business is changing because of the unpredictability of COVID-2019. First COVID patient was identified in china Wuhan 31 December. The total workers of apparel and textile industry is almost 4.1 percent. This industry is very important for the livelihood of the workers. The performance of the RMG sector is more critical for an economy like Bangladesh, since apparel contributes 84% of the country’s export, employing close to 4.1 million people. As textile is the backbone of our economy. Sustainability is the most popular word of the present times as well as it was. This crisis raised burning questions on the Sustainability of the textile industry. After the collapse of the Tazreen and Rana Plaza, the sustainability issues come to our mind. It remained us that our industry is vulnerable and the factory owner is not as willing to make the factory environmentally sustainable. The RMG industry is thought to be the main catalyst for the booming economy. The foreign buyers are always blaming the environmental and sustainability issues of the factory.  Sustainability might be different based on the context of factory issues. There are three sustainability goes with apparel and textiles industry like Social Sustainability, Economic Sustainability, and Environmental Sustainability. Among them, Environmental sustainability is the more burning issues of the globalization and industrialization. Nowadays buyers are focusing on eco-friendly production and productivity of the industry. This COVID situation worsens our industry more. Buyers need a cleaner and improved technology management for a better environment and a better production management system to reduce the impact of environmental hazards.

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Figure-1: Focusing on different sustainability

Social Sustainability is dealing with maintaining and improving the welfare of present and future generations(Chiu, 2003). This kind of sustainability deals with how discrimination of the environment can be removed and creates a harmonious environment and improve quality of life, reduce the social gap, and inequalities among the workers of the textile industry (Enyedi, 2002).This sustainability creates a significant social infrastructure, the availability of career ability of the workers, accessibility, ability to fulfill the psychological needs, social justice, social sustainability design, social cohesion, social interaction, social networks, social capital, cohesion and harmony between different social groups and social order (Sayyadi Tooranloo, Azadi, & Sayyahpoor, 2017). Environmental sustainability creates a safe and nice environment and seeks to reduce environmental impacts and to restore environmental damage. To enhance sustainable development requires solving environmental problems. Sustainability is related to environmental issues. Our textile industries should consider environmental issues as well as other compliance issues. Sustainable industries are the long-term assets of the booming economy of the country. For the sustainable development of the textile industry, green employee relations are very important. Green employee relations help to create an environment-friendly production system to produce environment-friendly productions. Economic stability is achieved by saving valuable resources necessary for future generations (i.e. implementation of the principle of fair and equal distribution between generations). This approach is very evident in the literature of sustainable development (Munasinghe, 1993) and, it is based on utility theory and economic efficiency, and can be applied in the optimal use of scarce resources and given that economic stability is relevant to a reduction in expenses, and economic management can be achieved by better management of resources and process efficiency, the following factors can be considered for improving better management and the competitive advantage of human resources(Cuccia, 2015).

Sustainable Production is a manufacturing process which converts products with such processes that are not polluting Environment,

  1. Produce environment-friendly product,
  2. conserve energy and resources,
  3. develop environment-friendly employer and employees behaviors’,
  4. Economically strong and sound, and safe for employees and suppliers, and customers and consumers.

 In Bangladesh, there are many green top factories like envoy textiles, Remmy holdings, and Plummy fashion has taken our factories’ height. These green factories have less carbon emission, higher production, and save more gas, electricity, and water compared to other factories Bangladesh has a total of 32 green factories. More than 100 green factories are under construction. BGMEA president Siddiqur Rahman said, “Environment-friendly factories have been established in the country, meeting the best compliance standards of the world. Now 150 factories are being readied as environment-friendly ones. That will increase the confidence of buyers in our clothing industries. Envoy Textiles invested Tk. 14 billion, Remi Holdings Tk. 1.2 billion, and Plummy Fashions Tk. 2.4 billion. In our country, we have 67 green factories and these green factories have less carbon emission, higher production and save more gas, electricity, and water compared to other factories Bangladesh has a total of 32 green factories. More than 100 green factories are under construction. It will expand the business as well.”Industry and factories must look forward to seeing the risk and hazardous elements do not harm to the production process. Green Factory compliance includes the green buildings, green knowledge sharing, green laws and regulations, green employee engagement, green workers behaviors, ensures the sustainable development of the factory.

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A robust sustainable framework is needed to achieve environmental sustainability. Proper utilization of resources is very important and resource efficiency should be ensured properly.

Energy efficiency —–> minimizing the energy

usages —–>

Potential energy usages
Water efficiency  —-> minimizing water usages —-> Potential alternative

water supply

Water efficiency —-> Optimizing material

uses and flow  —–>

Manage inventory and

procurement

Sustainable management practices include Effective management   information system, ensuring auditing and monitoring environmental performances and comply with the environmental system which is essential for the improvement of sustainable management practices like

  1. identify, develop, analyze, interpret and implement the business cases for sustainability
  2. Develop and Risk assessment of the business environment
  3. Environmental decision making
  4. Develop environmental friendly behaviors code of conduct
  5. Manage the policies and practices of the green environment.

Without a sustainable environment, in further it will very difficult to maintain the same level of production and expect productivity. In that cases, resource maximization with the least amount of resources, inclusion of corporate social development, Producing sustainable manufacturing products and services, Environmental Hazards Mitigation, Environment Friendly new product development, Quality improvement of the manufacturing process, Development of the cost control system, shifting newly to other new technology must be ensured by the textile and apparel industry. The business organization must take operational and business strategy, research and development strategy, modern technology management, and finally sustainable manufacturing and clean environment. In this crisis, these steps will help to retain and sustain the sustainability of the textile industry. Previously I have told government assertive efforts and imperative action and measures can reduce the loss of sustainability.

Bangladesh RMG owners, BGMEA, BKMEA, and others concerning bodies should concentrate much concern about sustainability. They should focus on the implementation of sustainability rather than profitability. Profit will come if the industry stays long run and survive in the global competition. Now the global competition is high and factory compliance must ensure to boom the economy as well as this sector. So Think big and win big.

Major References

  1. Chiu, R. L. (2003). 12 Social sustainability, sustainable development, and housing development. In Housing and social change: East-west perspectives (Vol. 221). Routledge.
  2. Cuccia, P. (2015). Ethics+ economy+ environment= sustainability: Gambero Rosso on the front lines with a new concept of sustainability. Wine Economics and Policy, 4(1), 69–70.
  3. Enyedi, G. (2002). Social sustainability of large cities. Ekistics, 142–144.
  4. Munasinghe, M. (1993). Environmental economics and sustainable development. The World Bank.
  5. Sayyadi Tooranloo, H., Azadi, M. H., & Sayyahpoor, A. (2017). Analyzing factors affecting implementation success of sustainable human resource management (SHRM) using a hybrid approach of FAHP and Type-2 fuzzy DEMATEL. Journal of Cleaner Production, 162, 1252–1265. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.06.109

About the author: Md. Nurun Nabi is a Ph.D. fellow at Huazhong University of Science and Technology(HUST), Wuhan, China, and Assistant Professor, Bangladesh University of Textiles