We are preparing ourselves for the next growth phase to become a leader in the sustainable manufacturing of apparel products. For that, we have realigned our vision with Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) priorities.
We are not only confined to basic approaches of sustainability, we are also giving importance to other advanced areas, such as circularity. We have pledged to increase the sustainable material mix by 50% in line with Sustainable Development Goal 12 – ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns – by 2030.
The Circular Economy in Bangladesh's Apparel Industry (CREATE) project has been launched to investigate the circular economy transition in global apparel value chains linked with Bangladesh's apparel industry and develop effective policies.
Energy efficiency, renewable energy and carbon footprint reduction have been one of the core areas of concern for the BGMEA. Therefore, investments in renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies have become imperative throughout the industry.
The BGMEA has set a target to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and energy consumption by 30% by 2030 and reduce deforestation by 30% within the same deadline.
We also encourage all apparel factories to use renewable energy to achieve the target. The BGMEA members are investing in solar energy to address the current energy crisis and move towards a greener Bangladesh.
There is scope to build more than 2GW of solar rooftop systems in the garments industry, which will altogether generate around 2,600 GWh of clean electricity per year, easing pressure on grid electricity and helping the country to deal with the ongoing energy crisis.
The solar system will also help factories to avoid 1.40 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, which amounts to planting around 2.14 million trees. Such an initiative will help the industry to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.
To become a safer apparel manufacturing country, the BGMEA has set a target of bringing 100% of industries under Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Certification and Testing Programmes by 2030. At the same time, we are pushing for a reduction of the blue water footprint by 50%.
The Danish International Development Agency (Danida) is supporting BGMEA in undertaking this project which reflects the significance of this industry among the development partners.
The BGMEA is setting up the "Centre for Innovation, Efficiency and OSH" at its own premises to focus on newer avenues of enhancing our sustainability vision and competitiveness through efficiency improvement and cost optimisation.
Another priority that we have been focusing on from day one is Apparel Diplomacy. The Board of BGMEA has launched an apparel diplomacy campaign to leverage the power of diplomacy for the betterment of our RMG industry.
Another major achievement is related to the post-EBA tariff facility GSP Plus. Europe is one of our major markets while around 62% of our exports go to this region. With the transition from the least developed countries, our duty-free access to this market will be changed.
Although the current facility will remain in force till 2029, the government and the BGMEA are working together to ensure this facility for at least another 12 years.
We have had several meetings in Brussels with representatives of the European Union on the post-EBA tariff facility GSP Plus.
In particular, I requested that one of the conditions of GSP Plus be exempted from the import threshold of 7.4% or an alternative formula be introduced.
I am very pleased to inform you that the European Commission accepted our request and removed this import threshold condition in their proposed 2024-2034 GSP regulation.
As an outcome of the apparel diplomacy campaign, we have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the American Apparel and Footwear Association (Aafa), one of the most influential trade organisations in the United States.
We have participated in COP26 where we presented the sustainability efforts of our industry. We also participated in the Global Fashion Summit (GFS) 2022 in Copenhagen.
Branding the industry is one of the most important mandates of our Board. Branding is not just something to talk about, we have to also make people believe.
For that, we are going to organise the first ever week-long mega event Made in Bangladesh Week 2022 during 12-18 November where a number of foreign delegates will participate and see the transformation of the industry directly.
Under the Made in Bangladesh week's umbrella, we will organise factory tours, Dhaka Apparel Expo and Dhaka Apparel Summit. Through these programmes, we will represent the dynamic interventions that are happening inside the country's RMG industry particularly, in the area of product diversification, innovation and value addition.