Bangladesh : 150 Green Garment Factories
Green Garment Factories in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is the first country to have 150 US Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified green apparel factories.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) reported that the country now has 44 platinum green factories, 93 gold, 9 silver, and 4 LEED certified factory buildings.
Bangladesh is the second top readymade garment (RMG) exporting country with the world’s highest number of green RMG factories. This sector comprises nearly 85% of the total exports and 11.2 % of the real GDP in the last year (2018-19), which significantly impacts its socio-economic development, eventually considered the main driver for sustainable development. Green garment industrialization is a bold demand from different stakeholders and a proper initiative to achieve sustainable industrial progress. However, it incurs massive investment in fixed cost and technical upliftment that may put the factories in challenges from internal and external competition.
What is Green Building Certification?
According to the World Green Building Council, a green building is a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts and can create a positive impact on our climate and natural environment. Elements of Green Buildings are Materials, Energy System, Water Management, and Health Components.
USGBC is a membership-based non-profit organization that promotes sustainability in designing, building, and operating structures.
“Sustainability is no more an option, it is a need, and it should be inclusive. In South Asia, Bangladesh has taken the lead in green initiatives,” said GBCI in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East Markets.
Compliance factories in many countries are implementing several best practices to improve their efficiency and sustainability. Some best practices are:
Rainwater harvesting, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (3R) of Water, Cogeneration, Condensate recovery boiler, water-efficient dyes and chemicals, and renewable energy (solar panel), Prismatic skylight, etc.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) developed a process to identify and measure a green building site for sustainability. In the building industry, it is well known as a LEED green building ranking system. The ranking process provides a standard for the building construction, designing, and function of a green building. The overall ranking methods are accord-based, driven by the market, and voluntary (USGBC, 2009). There are four key steps to get LEED certification such as register, verify inspection and certify. LEED certification procedure involves four particular levels (FIGURE 3). These levels are based on 100 points ranking system.
(Image Sources: USGBC, 2017)
These are LEED Certified (40-49 points), LEED Silver (50-59 points), LEED Gold (60-79 points), and LEED Platinum (80 points and above).
Advantages of Green Garment Factories
Bangladesh is now struggling to cope with the deficiency of electricity and suffering from a shortage of water. Green garment factories can help us in this regard, ensuring efficient usage of water and energy.
A green or sustainable factory increases the efficiency of energy, water and materials use. It results from a design that conserves resources and reduces negative impacts on human health and the environment throughout the building’s life cycle – from construction and operation to renovation and removal.
Green buildings operate much more efficiently than conventional buildings. They can save you money, increase the productivity of your personnel, enhance your company’s financial valuation and contribute to demonstrating your commitment to sustainability.
The other direct benefits that green buildings bring are enhancement of the image of the factory, protection of health, workplace safety, and higher productivity of the workers. With the unique architectural design, a LEED-certified factory building ensures fewer industrial accidents, like fires, causing fewer casualties.
The RMG industry in Bangladesh is dominated by three primary energy sources like diesel power, grid power, and natural gas. Natural gas is the primary source of energy.
The green factories are reusing exhausted generator gas to run other heavy machinery, which reduces the high use of energy throughout the year. In the green garment factories, the heating device is connected with the factory boiler to reuse the heat from chimney gases to increase the feedwater temperature.
Consequently, the factory required low energy, and it also increases overall boiler efficiency. To ensure the best use of energy, green factories use LED lights, daylights, servo motor, eco-friendly machinery. S M Monirul Islam, CEO, IDCOL confirmed that the garment industry’s energy-efficient activities would strengthen productivity and competitive advantages (Financial Express, 2019).
Use Of Renewable Energy
Production of renewable power facilities is considered as an essential credit point for archiving green factory certificates. The primary sources of sustainable power are wind, water, biomass, solar, etc. (Rezaei et al., 2013). In Bangladesh, green garment factories are generating renewable energies, mostly from solar. Bangladesh gets everyday sun radiation about 4 to 5 Wh/ m². The Bangladesh government is concentrating on the modern net metering system. For the green factory establishments, net metering plays a particular role in getting power efficiency.
Saving Water Resources
Water efficiency means optimum use of water and decreasing waste of Water (Sheth, 2017). As indicated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Water efficiency is the optimum use of water resources through modern water-saving technologies and fundamental steps that can be taken around the industrial perspective. To guarantee the optimum use of water, green garment factories are using the water treatment plant, water tracking system, water-efficient urinal, water-efficient toilets, reusing the basin’s water in toilet flushing, etc.
Green garment factories are focused on ensuring the best use of water-efficient technologies in the whole factory to maintain green industrial production and keep the environment safe. Textile industry needs a high quantity of groundwater, and rainwater harvesting is a potential source of groundwater utilization. Bangladesh has a long period of rainy monsoon season. Bangladeshi green garment processing plants are reserving rainwater in a systematic process and storing water.
Improved Workplace environment
Green garment factories are ensuring working safety, improving internal environmental quality, and healthy working place. The green garment factory building is made of low emitting materials, and the interior is designed to utilize maximum flows of natural air. It provides thermal comfort in the workplace. Efficient floor management and excellent compliance protection provide a safe work environment to the workers of green garment factories.
Positive Social Impact
A green garment factory plays a good role in society. A green garment factory helps economic growth and employee benefits. It also contributes to eliminating the poverty level in the community. For instance, there is a significant work opportunity in the plastic business in Bangladesh. However, it is considered an informal job sector. A green factory can be a source of good earnings, which will improve job conditions and more productivity. Bangladesh has the highest global market share in the solar home system. It shows the opportunities and people’s interest in using renewable power in Bangladesh.
A green garment factory’s economic benefits getting generated from the best business performance because of operating green standards. It gives a solid ecosystem and supports sustainable growth for the future. It also provides a good outlook on the international value chain, making new opportunities in the global markets.
Embracing a green market creates more employment opportunities; according to the energy industry, 3.5 million latest employment opportunities have been designed for the job market by sustainable power usage in contrast with 2.5 million new job vacancies from the gas and oil industry.
Furthermore, improving ecological performance will help to grow economic funds. For instance, power efficiency will decrease the higher use of energy which will benefit the overall finances of a company. Researches prove that clean energy technology has short restitution times and leads to cut down yearly expenses.
After primary developing expenditure, these investments assist in reducing the use of resources through efficient productivity. These saving funds can be utilized to grow the business, creating new job opportunities or industry development.
The green garment factories having an edge in the outsourcing market differentiates Bangladesh from its major regional rivals—Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Bangladesh is now home to the highest number of platinum-rated green garment factories in the world.
The RMG sector plays a crucial role in the progress of industrial development in Bangladesh. In a short time, the Bangladesh garment sector managed to achieve global recognition. Bangladesh ranked number one in Southeast Asia and the second-largest garment exporter in the world. Although the brands do not pay extra for green garment factories, such an initiative helps a lot in branding the country. Most of the buyers are not conscious of GSCM (Green Supply Chain Management) products and services. Customer demands and low prices are considered critical external pressures.
Environmental safety, safe working place, less energy consumption, factory’s reputation, and attracting buyers were the main motivating factors behind going to the green garment factory. There is a vast infrastructure, high maintenance cost, higher production cost, and lack of green-financial support are the main challenges for green transformation and sustainable growth of this sector. Apart from that fair price, green priority orders from the buyers and favourable government policies can remarkably influence green garment factories’ green shift and sustainability.
Bangladeshi garment entrepreneurs have accepted the “Go Green” idea as a role model. The future growth of the green garment factories is mainly dependent on fair prices and a collective effort of Brands, buyers, policymakers, and a decisive, supportive role of the government.