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Policy gaps and opportunities for circular fashion in Bangladesh

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Policy makers and fashion industry executives says recycling 100% cotton waste could save Bangladesh half a billion USD on cotton imports 

Analysis conducted by the Circular Fashion Partnership has revealed the significant value in utilising textile waste more efficiently in Bangladesh. The findings were revealed at an online event hosted by the Circular Fashion Partnership together with prominent policy makers and fashion industry executives. Md. Shahriar Alam, MP, Honorable State Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh, provided the keynote address at the event.

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Ambassador of Bangladesh to Denmark M. Allama Siddiki, Ambassador of Denmark to Bangladesh Winnie Estrup Petersen, BGMEA President Faruque Hassan, CEO of Global Fashion Agenda Federica Marchionni, and Head of Recycling and Chief Project Officer of Reverse Resources, Nin Castle spoke at the event and discussed the opportunities, how to overcome barriers to accelerate the transition to a circular industry and explore how Bangladesh can become a leader in circular fashion.

The Circular Fashion Partnership is a cross-sectorial project led by Global Fashion Agenda, with partners Reverse Resources, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and is supported by P4G, that aims to achieve a long-term, scalable transition to a circular fashion system. the event was held on 16 June through virtual platform.

Its research has found that in 2019, Bangladesh produced approximately 577,000 tonnes of waste just from the ready-made garments (RMG) and fabrics mills of which almost half (250 thousand tonnes) was 100% pure cotton waste. It is estimated that factories in Bangladesh could sell this 100% cotton waste to the recycling market for up to 100 million USD.

Bangladesh is currently heavily reliant on the import of textile fibre. In 2019, the country imported 1.63 million tonnes of staple cotton fibre (with a value estimated to be 3.5 billion USD). Based on the Circular Fashion Partnership findings, if just the 100% cotton waste was recycled within Bangladesh, imports could decrease by around 15%, therefore saving half a billion USD that would have been spent on cotton imports.

In his address at the event Faruque Hassan, President, BGMEA, says: “The sustenance of the planet is now at risk and we cannot stay indifferent! We have to shift the linear economic model to circular. This is the future and we are committed to close the loop while achieving our strategic growth targets.”

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Federica Marchionni, CEO, Global Fashion Agenda, says: “In order for fashion to continue to prosper within planetary boundaries, we need to urgently embrace the opportunities of a circular economy. Using the Reverse Resources technology platform, we have been able to map participants’ textile waste to grasp its scale and quantify the economic opportunity of closing the loop.

These findings demonstrate that a circular fashion system could breed not only environmental but financial benefits for a country. It is wonderful to see so many esteemed parties joining us on our journey to circularity and I hope that the business model being developed in Bangladesh will be replicated in other countries around the world.”

Nin Castle, Head of Recycling and Chief Project Officer, Reverse Resources, says: “Bangladesh produces arguably the most recyclable textile waste of any apparel producing country. With the emergence of new and improved versions of existing recycling technologies, Bangladesh has a huge opportunity to scale its local recycling capacity and accordingly reduce its dependency on virgin raw materials. If a recycling industry is fostered now, it would enable the country to not only enjoy the obvious benefits of cost and carbon footprint reduction but also gain a massive competitive edge.”

The event was followed by two panel discussions

Panel I – Opportunities for the RMG Sector Bangladesh: Mohsina Yasmin, EXECUTIVE MEMBER, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Prime Minister’s Office, Helene Smits, Chief Sustainability Officer, Recover,  Iria Mouzo Lestón, Head of Circularity & Sustainability Public Affairs, Inditex,  Mostafiz Uddin, Managing Director, Denim Expert,  Samira Saidi, Investment Advisor, Good Fashion Fund took part this panel discussion.

Panel II – Navigating Challenges for Scaling Circularity:  Major General Md. Nazrul Islam, Executive Chairman, BEPZA, Jeremy Opritesco, Deputy Head of Delegation, and Head of Politics and Trade, EU delegation Bangladesh,  Faiaz Rahman, Director, Urmi Group,  Luke Henning, CFO, Circ Masarrat Quader, Regional Stakeholder Engagement and Public Affairs Manager, H&M Group,  Nishat Shahid Chowdhury, Program Manager, PaCT Program, International Finance  Corporation (IFC)

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Holly Syrett (Global Fashion Agenda) and Mohammad Monower Hossain (Joint Secretary BGMEA) Moderated the Panel Discussion. Since its launch in November 2020, over 50 brands, manufacturers, recyclers and NGOs have signed up to take part in the Circular Fashion Partnership.

The partnership supports the development of the textile recycling industry in Bangladesh by capturing and directing post-production fashion waste back into the production of new fashion products. In addition, the partnership seeks to find solutions for the COVID-19 related pile-up of deadstock and to engage regulators and investors around the current barriers and economic opportunities in the country. To do so, the initiative facilitates circular commercial collaborations between textile and garment manufacturers, recyclers and fashion brands operating in Bangladesh.

 

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