Sustainability is one of the burning issues in the textiles and garments industry of Bangladesh. Bangladesh is the second-largest ready-made garment exporter in the world and the country has massively benefited from exporting RMG products. However, in the meantime, the practices within the industry have remained inconsistent with regards to environmental sustainability.
Approximately, 5,77,000 tons of waste are reported to be generated from the apparel industry and textile mills of Bangladesh, of which 2,50,000 tons, almost half of the total, is 100% recyclable cotton waste valued at approximately $100 million (Pavarini, 2021).
According to the latest study, the approximate amount of spinning waste is 24%, weaving waste is 35%, dyes loss is up to 2,00,000 tons, cutting loss is 10-15% and post-consumer waste is 1,000 tons. As the amount is huge, Bangladesh needs to take initiatives as early as possible.
The environmental issues resulting from textile waste consist of groundwater pollution, airborne waste, dust and noise, soil degradation, greenhouse gas emissions, rainforest degradation and so on.
The clothing and textile industry accounts for 4% of global carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the emissions of France, Germany and the UK combined, and material production is the largest polluter within the value chain, accounting for 70% of fashion's greenhouse gas emissions. This pollution makes the country dangerous for the inhabitants.
Companies like denim giant Levi Strauss are working toward achieving sustainability throughout their manufacturing process, including the use of sustainable fibres from which they can make garments.
Levi's has started using recycled plastic to make their world-famous Jeans. In the long run, every top-ranked buyer will take these kinds of initiatives to make the word sustainable and green. Since the factories in Bangladesh are buyer-oriented, it's better to take the steps needed to make the environment sustainable and attract buyers.
The textile and RMG sector needs to move forward and toward the point of environmental sustainability because it is a must for every industry of the whole country to prevent the environment from getting worse.
There are several sustainability issues facing the textiles industry, including the use of unsafe pesticides and chemicals; animal welfare issues from sourcing raw materials; pollution through air and water transmission; waste products ending up in landfills, and packaging that is not recyclable or biodegradable, and so on.
To overcome these issues, some initiatives can be taken like blending cotton with other fibres to reduce its environmental footprint; using Hemp, which is durable and uses less water to produce; considering synthetic, eco-friendly fibres; seeking out recycled fibres or recycling their own etc.
At present, a revolution towards "Going Green" is taking place. The consumers of today's world are also aware enough to seek the betterment of the world. So if Bangladesh needs to dominate the global market like it does now, it is necessary to move towards sustainability. Otherwise, the global market will move forward without Bangladesh and that will result in millions of people getting unemployed.
Saima Mahjabin is an Instructor at the SAIC Institute of Management & Technology.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.