Garment's green initiatives impress top IMF official

Second from left, Mitsuhiro Furusawa, deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, visits Eco Couture, a green factory of Viyellatex Group, in Gazipur yesterday. Photo: Viyellatex

A top official of the International Monetary Fund has expressed optimism about the future of Bangladesh's garment sector after he saw firsthand the industry's efforts to embrace green practices. 

“The future of Bangladesh's apparel industry is very bright because of the good workers and the vibrant private sector entrepreneurs,” Mitsuhiro Furusawa, deputy managing director of the IMF, said yesterday.

He said the garment sector of Bangladesh has progressed a lot over the years, and turning the factories into green units to save water, energy and the environment is a good initiative.

The IMF official visited two green factories -- Eco Couture Ltd and Ecofab -- both owned by Viyellatex Group, a leading garment maker based in Gazipur.

“The atmosphere is excellent for the workers. I am very much impressed,” Furusawa said. 

“I think the garment sector has a bright future. But Bangladesh needs to improve infrastructure further.”

Furusawa, who came to Dhaka on Sunday on a two-day visit, said the IMF stands ready to offer support to the private sector of Bangladesh.

“An improved business climate is important for the country. Bangladesh should simplify the rules by reducing red tape.”

Some 67 garment factories of Bangladesh have obtained a highly regarded global certification -- the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) of the US Green Building Council. Another 222 factories have registered to obtain the recognition, according to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

Currently, Bangladesh has 13 platinum-rated, 20 gold-rated, 27 silver-rated and 7 LEED-certified garment factories. Seven of the world's top 10 green factories are from Bangladesh, including the top three platinum-rated industrial units, said KM Rezaul Hasanat, chairman of Viyellatex Group.

Platinum is the highest level of certification that a factory can earn. Hasanat said he can save more than 40 percent energy thanks to the green initiative.

He said green factories are not only about saving energy and water or protecting the environment, but also about ensuring a safe workplace.

“In a green factory, workers feel safe and confident,” he said.

The entrepreneur said a green factory also houses schools, childcare, health care, recreation and training facilities dedicated to workers.

Speaking about his two green units, Hasanat said Eco Couture was designed in the concept of an opera house where artistes work. “Garment workers are also like artistes as they are involved in innovative work.”

Located in Jogitola in the industrial belt, the LEED gold-certified two-storey Eco Couture is located on an 144,000-square feet space where all operations from sewing to packing of a product take place.

Ecofab is an extension of the group's woven business, Interfab Shirt Manufacturing Ltd. It is a modern environment-friendly production unit and was set up following the concept of a resort.

Both the units went into production last year. Hasanat has invested Tk 200 crore to construct the two units which employ 5,000 workers.

Olymp, Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, PVH, DKNY, Marks & Spencer, Esprit and s.Oliver are the major customers of the group.


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