Fauque Hassan,
Senior Vice President, BGMEA

Many of us may not be aware of the fact that World Water Day is an annual event celebrated on March 22nd as a means of focusing attention on the importance of fresh water and advocating for the sustainable management of fresh water resources. So let’s commit to not wasting a single drop of water,today, tomorrow and the rest of the time.
Historically known as a riverine country Bangladesh has more than 700 rivers, tributaries and different form of wetlands. The correlation between water and economy in Bangladesh is very intense from the beginning of civilization in this soil.

Industrialization and urbanization also developed surrounding inland and sea ports. In the history of Bangladesh water comes in the form of disaster, means of communication and flood. Culturally the people of this area are never aware about water crisis and it is not treated as a scarce resources.

Though water seems inexpensive in Bangladesh, however the real cost of water use in industry is quite expensive as it includes cost of pumping, distribution, and Water Treatment Plant (WTP) and Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) management. All these costs contribute into the cost of production which is directly proportionate to the amount of water that we use. Hence, more use of water leads to more cost. Efficient and smart management of water resource is very important not only for environmental considerations but also because it makes business sense.

Due to heavy urbanization and industrialization the water table in and around Dhaka depleting 1 to 2 meters every year! Though ground water is not a problem for the whole country, the unplanned extraction of ground water in Bangladesh is dangerous for the future sustainability of Bangladesh. Considering the importance of water resource conservation; sustainable consumption has been identified as one of the major goals of 17 SDGs. Ensuring water security has already been identified as a key area of concern for the RMG and textile industry of Bangladesh.

Both industry and major buyers have showed significant concern over ensuring water resource for the days to come. Bangladesh standing at a takeoff phase and aspired to be a middle income country by 2021 while RMG and textile will be playing the major role as it is the main engine of economic growth. But no significant hydro economic studies have yet been done to see if we have enough of water to reach our strategic goals in future.

Bangladesh government has taken the issue of water security very seriously Bangladesh Water Act 2013 has been published and major policies are in hand. Government has signed anMoU with the Government of Netherlands onBangladesh Delta plan 2100, Water Resource Group 2030 (WRG 2030) is a cosignatory of the MoU.

WRG 2030 working through a water Multi Stakeholder Platform (MSP)that includes government, private sector and civil society with a aim to come up with some transformation in the industry, agriculture and municipal sector and ensure water security by demand-side efficiency measures, improve surface water quality through wastewater treatment and promote integrated water resources management. In the world Economic Forum 2017 in Davos, Switzerland,

Prime Minister SeikhHasina asserted commitment of her government to the 2030 WRG in Bangladesh. Private sector too is very committed to this platform which is being steered by a high level National Steering Board where BGMEA is an important member.

Prior to the involvement in 2030 WRG, BGMEA being implementing Bangladesh Water PaCT (Partnership for Cleaner Textile) program partnering IFC, funded by Netherland Government and some global apparel brands source from Bangladesh. The PaCT project is being implemented in around 236 wet processing units of the RMG industry that has been successfully reduce water consumption of 21.6 billion liter per annum and 18.8 Billion liters of grey water(waste water) in the intervened factory.

Another pilot project named ‘TREES’ has been intervened in around 17 SMEs jointly implemented by BGMEA and PSES, GIZ. A textile sustainability platform (TSP) has been established to provide policy suggestion to the government toward ensuring sustainable growth of the industry. A textile technology business centre (TTBC) firs of its kind has been established in BGMEA to help its member factories in disseminating information about environment friendly and resource efficient technology and best practices. TTBC also organize seminars on cleaner production, green factories etc.

In recent years Bangladesh RMG sector showed remarkable success in the area of greening industry, till date 67 factories got LEED Certification from United States Green building council (USGBC) of which 4 of the factories achieved highest rating in industrial category of the whole world and 13 are Platinum and 20 are Gold Certified. Another 280 more factories have registered in USGBC for the same and many more are preparing for it.

It can be predicted that within the next five years our RMG sector will have more than 500 world class factory buildings certified by LEED. A green factory building is also best placed to address workers comfort by ensuring ambient air quality standard, hygiene and thermal comfort.

Remi Holdings ltd. an RMG factory & Washing Plant of the Bitopi group has recently achieved LEED Platinum certification under the category LEED: BD+C: New Construction, with a score of 97 points, making it the highest rated Green RMG Factory and Washing Plant in the World!

The highest rated LEED Platinum RMG Factory & Washing Plant under the category LEED O+M: Existing Buildings, is Tarasima Apparels Ltd., also of the Bitopi Group, with a score of 93 points.

The highest rated LEED Platinum washing plant in the world (Genesis Washing), the highest rated knit factory (Plummy Fashion) and the highest rated Denim fabric mill (Envoy Textiles) are all located in Bangladesh.

Most of the garments manufacturers are now well equipped with Effluent treatment plant (ETP), moreover many factories are practicing reuse and some are implementing recycle of waste water. Now a day’s Department of environment are asking for zero discharge plan from factories while renewing the ECC (Environmental Clearance Certificate).

Rain water harvesting, hazardous chemical management, reuse and recycle of process water and so many other things are being practiced by the industry beyond compliance. Some significant development has already been achieved in Bangladesh but we have a lot more to do. Sustainability is not a standalone game rather a shared responsibility of all the parties involved. Changing attitude is definitely a long call, but it has to be started, the good thing is it started rolling in a right direction.