Global brands team up to make Bangladeshi factories environment-friendly
Leading apparel and footwear buyers and retailers, who source from Bangladesh, have teamed up to make the country's factories environmentally sound as part of a global initiative.
They have come together under the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) programme, which aims to help lead the industries towards lowering discharge of such chemicals by 2020.
The ZDHC programme signatory brands include Adidas, Benetton, Burberry, C&A, Esprit, G-Star Raw, Gap, H&M, Inditex, Jack Wolfskin, Levi Strauss, L Brands, Li Ning, M&S, New Balance Athletic Shoe, NIKE, PUMA and PVH Corp.
In Bangladesh, the grouping held its first workshop on stakeholder engagement at Radisson Hotel in Dhaka recently.
Apart from country representatives of brands, suppliers, textile industry associations, environmental and social nongovernmental organisations took part in the event.
ZDHC brands understand that beyond their own capabilities and commitments, meaningful, lasting and industry-wide change requires a broader partnership of efforts, the grouping said in a statement.
"Together, ZDHC brands and associate members are pooling their resources to tackle the challenges toward our goal of zero discharge – forming the most practical, scalable and solutions-oriented initiatives within the industry to date."
"We believe this is the soundest and most sustainable way forward. We are aware that we cannot achieve true transformation without engagement from many participants in this complex system," according to the statement.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) welcomed the initiative.
"For me, the ZDHC roadmap is a significant step towards building a sustainable textile industry for Bangladesh," Shahidullah Azim, vice president of the trade body, said at the workshop.
He said the initiative by the leading brands would contribute to harmonisation of environmental standards in the garment industry.
He said the country's garment sector is facing a growing challenge in the area of environmental sustainability on issues like ground water depletion, resource inefficient production process, hazardous waste management, occupational health and safety measures.
"I believe we need to overcome these challenges to become more competitive in the global RMG supply chain."
In recent times the number of green factories is increasing and entrepreneurs are becoming more conscious about the environmental cost of production.
BGMEA is an implementation partner of the International Finance Corporation's cleaner textile project, which is being implemented in around 200 factories to reduce carbon and water footprint in the industry.
"Change may not be possible overnight but the journey which has started will definitely take our industry to different heights," said Azim.
BGMEA has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with German international agency GIZ to enhance resource efficiency and sustainability in factories.
At the workshop, ZDHC brands and stakeholders discussed the actions and seek collaborative opportunities to achieve positive and lasting change in responsible chemicals management.
Shariful Hoque of H&M; Kazy Iqbal of C&A; Arif Hossain of Knit Concern; and Syed Sayeed Munir of Epyllion, talked on best practices of sustainable chemical management in the garment sector.
Frans Verspeek from the IFC, and Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of Policy Research Institute, also spoke.
In 2011, a group of major apparel and footwear brands and retailers made a shared commitment to help lead the industry towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020.