Bangladesh’s economy grew 7.05 percent in the first three-quarters of the 2015-16 financial year, grossing over 6 percent a year for the past decade. A major driver of the country’s impressive economic growth is its booming ready-made garment (RMG) sector, earning a reputation as a global leader in low-cost, high-quality manufacturing.
In the fiscal year 2015-16, the garment industry has generated $28.09 bn exports with a 10.21% growth from the previous year. The growth has been attributed by the exporters, political calmness during the year, increased productivity, and improvement of workers’ safety standards in factories.
Now, Bangladesh is the second-largest exporter of RMG after China. The sector employs over 4 million people, about 80 percent of whom are women from rural communities. Bangladesh’s RMG sector is well positioned to attain the $50 billion mark by 2021.
To secure middle-income country status, the growth figures are encouraging, Bangladesh has the potential to claim an even higher share of the global apparel market, which will cross the $2 trillion mark by 2025 from the current value of $1.1 trillion.
Addressing worker safety issues, the industry should prepare itself to address the environmental consequences of a rapidly expanding industry. Without reconciling the country’s economic ambitions with environmental concerns, economic growth will not be sustainable.
A number of private sector actors in the RMG sector are slowly but steadily moving toward “going green” by promoting environmentally friendly innovations. The major motivation for factories to adopt more environmentally friendly practices and policies has been the emergence of a global market niche that values factories that go beyond just meeting standard compliances to adhering to higher environmental standards.
The BGMEA is working to engage with policymakers to inspire the industry to adopt green initiatives. It is high time for the RMG industry to take the lead in further investing in greening measures, which can be a catalyst to the industry’s growth ambitions.
Already 35 garment factories from Bangladesh have received LEED certification from the United States Green Building Council. More than 150 factories are expected to be given the LEED certification by 2016. About 133 garment factories have applied for LEED certification already. Fifty more factories are in a queue to receive the LEED certification.
To receive this LEED certification, building projects must satisfy certain prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Green buildings have numerous benefits, including reduction of energy consumption by more than 24 percent and water consumption by 50 percent.
Now, factory owners are more interested in transforming their old factories to create a brand image. More green factories mean higher export growth of the garment industry. So, they are going for green buildings, mainly to bag more work orders from international retailers.