Eco-friendly factories are growing

Workers working at Remy Holdings Ltd in NarayanganjProthom Alo file photo

Entrepreneurs in the country’s readymade garment industry became interested in eco-friendly factories following the Rana Plaza collapse in Savar. In continuity of that, 19 more factories have been certified as eco-friendly within eight months of this year.

With this, the number of eco-friendly garment and textile factories has increased to 125. About 500 more eco-friendly factories are currently underway.

According to the entrepreneurs, the eco-friendly facilities generally, cost 5 to 20 per cent more than the conventional ones, but the benefits are long term. Overall, the green factories can reduce electricity consumption by 24 to 50 per, water consumption by 40 per cent and carbon emissions by 33 to 39 per cent.

The entrepreneurs consider that the higher the number of such industries in Bangladesh, the less the pressure on environment. Also, the workers will have the opportunity to work in a better environment.

A number of organisations around the world certify the eco-friendly establishments. Of them, the US Green Building Council (USGBC), established in 1993, issues the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certificate.

The factories in Bangladesh received the certificates under the USGBC.

A project must ensure the highest standards at every stage from construction to production under the supervision of USGBC to receive the certificate. The certificate can also be sought once construction of a building is complete or an old structure is renovated.

Under the USGBC, factories as well as commercial establishments, schools, houses, sales centres, prayer centres could be set up as environment-friendly facilities. The number of commercial establishments receiving the LEED certificate exceeded 100,000 in November 2019.

There are 110 points to fulfill nine conditions of the LEED certificate. There are four levels of qualification—Certified (40-49 points), Silver (50-59 points), Gold (60-79 points), Platinum (above 80 points).

Premises of Plummy Fashions

Quoting the USGBC, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said a total of 144 facilities in the country received the LEED certificate as of 7 September. Of them, 41 were qualified as Platinum, 87 Gold, 14 Silver and 2 Certified. Of the 144, there are 125 garments and textile factories. Apart from these, the certified factories include shipyard, shoe and electronic product manufacturers and commercial structures.

SM Khaled of Snowtex Outerwear Ltd. in Dhamrai, said the low consumption of electricity and water at the eco-friendly factories reduces the production cost which eventually will help sustain businesses in the long run. Many big brands and organisations are interested to include eco-friendly factories in their sourcing list, he said adding that this is why it is easier to attract them through these factories. This allows long-term booking from them, he said.

Khaled observed that production growth must be stressed at the green factories or else the reduced production cost will not be of much advantage.

Factories receiving the LEED certificate this year include EMS Apparels Ltd, Pacific Casual, Anwara Fasions, Karooni Knit Composite Ltd, the padding and home-wear unit of Debonair Group, Karupannya Rangpur Ltd, Mayble and Frank Fashions Ltd, Nippon Garments Industries, Avitex Dress Shirt and so on. Among the garment and textile factories, Remy Holdings Ltd, Tarasima Apparels Ltd and Plummy Fashions Ltd. earned the highest points.

Noting that the institutions are branding their own environment-friendly factories, Fazlul Haque, managing director of Plummy Fashions Ltd. said country branding has not yet been possible. He said, “Branding the green factories as a whole would lift the status of the country’s apparel industry and benefit the entire garment sector.”

“It requires initiatives at the government or business organisation level. There is no sign of that, but no competitive country is even close to Bangladesh in terms of the number of green factories,” he said. When asked whether they are receiving a good price for the apparels, he said, “We are able to receive prices, but not as per our expectations.”

This report has been rewritten for the English edition by Nusrat Nowrin