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Dhaka Tribune

Experts: Invest in transitioning RMG industry to keep up with EU Green Deal

They also suggested creating a smart, realistic, enforceable, SME-friendly and a coherent regulatory framework

Update : 14 Nov 2022, 08:44 PM

Experts suggested apparel manufacturers invest in industrial transition which includes innovation, digitization, training the workforce and introduction of efficient energy to be able to trade with the European Union (EU) as they make the Green Deal.

They also suggested creating a smart, realistic, enforceable, SME-friendly and a coherent regulatory framework.

To address the impact of the EU Green Deal, manufacturers should create a demand for sustainable products, understand consumer behaviour and enhance communication.

They were speaking at the panel discussion at the 37th IAF Fashion Convention 2022 in the capital on Monday.

In his keynote titled “The Impact of Europe's Green Deal”, Drik Vantyghem, director general of the European Apparel and Textile Confederation (Euratex), also said that the three drivers for this EU strategy include a focus on sustainability, industrial resilience and a new global perspective.

“In these three drivers, sustainability includes a set of elements including zero pollution, a circular economy where industrial resilience focuses on change in the industrial ecosystem and global perspective focusing on an open, sustainable, and assertive trade policy,” he added.

In the new deal, EU consumers focus on durable, repairable and recyclable textile products made from recycled fibres, hazard-free materials, and respecting social rights.

“It also focuses on the end of the fast fashion by emphasizing circular, re-use and repair services, and a textile sector fully competitive, innovative, and resilient,” he added.

The new regulatory framework will also include eco-design regulation, due diligence, digital product passport, green claims, ecolabel and many more, he said, while adding that the transition pathway should be resilient, have a level playing field, be innovative and skilful, green and digital.

In his speech, Cem Alton, president of the International Apparel Federation (IAF) said that the world has seen an admirable and self-driven growth of the industry in Bangladesh. 

“It is a good moment to highlight the story of Bangladesh, so close to the 50th birthday and in the year that the IAF itself turns 50 years old as well,” he added.

Citing climate is a global problem, he said, adding that the COP27 meetings are being held in Egypt and as one of the largest industries in the world, the apparel industry has a major climate footprint and a responsibility to reduce it.

“Even if we did not feel that responsibility, in Europe, the Green Deal promises the biggest set of environmental legislation for our industry. Unfortunately, our industry does not have a very green reputation at this moment,” he added. 

Moreover, the industry faces a business problem due to global inflation, order cancellations, filled warehouses, discounts etc and the manufacturers feel the squeeze from higher costs and lower demand. 

Now everyone should realize the need to come together as an industry to solve the problems and the major challenges including playing a crucial role in a successful industry transformation, reducing CO2 emissions, and investing in lower energy use machines and processes.

However, garment manufacturers have now started to turn the tide and some brands and retailers are reconsidering their relation to their supply chains. IAF, BGMEA and BKMEA have taken the initiative together for the Sustainable Terms of Trade Initiative (STTI). 

In his welcome speech, Faruque Hassan, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said that they are glad to host this conference for the very first time in Dhaka and the theme for this year's convention is “Transforming fashion together,” which carries the message of supply chain collaboration between buyers and their suppliers.

He also said that in the past decade, the industry has undergone a massive transformation to ensure workplace safety, workers' well-being and sustainability. 

“Bangladesh is now the role model of industrial safety and environmental sustainability to the world with 177 USGBC LEED certified factory buildings,” he said.

Although manufacturers are already using sustainable business practices into their value chain, there is still some scope for improvement. 

In his speech, Fazlee Shamim Ehsan, vice president of the BKMEA said that “Transforming fashion together” is the theme of the event and sustainability is the main focus in this transformation.

In the 1st panel discussion on “Creating better supply chains together,” BGMEA Vice President Miran Ali, Chainge Capital CEO John Thorbeck, RSC MD Roger Hubert, and Asrotex Group Head of Business Abdullah Al Maher discussed how should they redefine the buyer-supplier relationship to enable supply chains to deliver a more sustainable product, with better conditions for its people. 

They also discussed a special focus on innovation in the supply chain and global standards such as STTI and the OECD's due diligence guidance.

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