The number of environment-friendly, “green” RMG factories is on the rise in Bangladesh, revolutionising the country’s apparel industry and slowly uplifting its downward reputation in the world.
Since 2011, a total of 67 Bangladeshi RMG factories have received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC), one of the top green building rating systems in the world, according to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) data.
Of the 67 factories, 13 have been rated platinum, 20 gold and five silver. At least 222 more factories have been registered with the USGBC for the LEED certification.
Industry insiders say the number of green factories are increasing as global retailers are looking for eco-friendly apparel manufacturers since consumers around the world are growing concerned about how the production of their clothes affect the environment.
This is improving the global image of Bangladeshi RMG industry which has taken several hits in recent years due to a lack of workers safety in factories, which has led to fatal incidents.
“We have successfully established several top-rated eco-friendly factories which are rebuilding our image and drawing the attention of renowned global brands and retailers,” said Fazlul Haque, managing director of Plummy Fashions Ltd.
A LEED platinum certified company, Plummy Fashions Ltd has scored 92 out of 110 in USGBC’s knitting category and is currently the greenest knitting factory in the world.
“Green factories have taken Bangladesh’s RMG sector to a new height in terms of environment-friendly manufacturing and compliance issues,” said BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman.
Aiming to cut back on carbon emission, the green factories in Bangladesh have been set up with eco-friendly technology and are using water-saving technology, harvesting rain water, and using solar panels and servo motor for power generation.
Setting up a green factory costs more than that for a regular one, but in the long run, the payback is more than worth it.
Sources at different green factories said a green factory uses 40% less energy, 41% less water and emits 35% less carbon compared to a regular RMG factory.
“Green manufacturers may face difficulties in competing with the regular manufacturers in terms of prices, but eventually global buyers will pay more for green products as green manufacturers care about both their workers and the environment,” said Miran Ali, chairman of Remi Holdings Ltd, another LEED platinum certified company.
Abdus Salam Murshedy, managing director of Envoy Textiles Ltd, said: “Green factories provide better working environment and ensures workers’ safety, which boosts productivity.”
Government offering green finance
To encourage all industries to establish eco-friendly factories, the government is providing loans at 9% interest, especially to the RMG sector.
According to Bangladesh Bank, in the 2015-16 fiscal year, banks and other financial institutions disbursed Tk46,590 crore in loans. Of that amount, Tk39,695 crore went to green factories, most of which are in the RMG sector.
Sources in the RMG sector said the government needs to formulate green industry-friendly policies, such as duty-free import of raw materials.
They also urged the government to offer incentives to those who are investing in the establishment of eco-friendly factories.