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Sustainable manufacturing

BGMEA seeks green funds, fair prices

Arifur Rahaman Tuhin
13 Nov 2021 00:00:00 | Update: 13 Nov 2021 10:10:25
BGMEA seeks green funds, fair prices

Apparel leaders have sought green funds from developed countries and donor agencies to tackle climate change impacts and its upcoming challenges as well as to reduce carbon emissions for sustainable garment manufacturing.

They have also sought fair prices from global retailers during their current visit to the COP26 summit in Scotland’s Glasgow.

During the visit, a group of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) leaders participated in several meetings with Western buyers, Good Fashion Fund (GFF) representatives, diplomats from several countries, and world leaders.

“We have tried to brand our country and highlight the apparel sector’s improvements as well as green initiatives. We believe we will have good feedback from buyers and the Western community after a certain period,” BGMEA President Faruque Hassan told The Business Post.

On November 11, BGMEA leaders held a meeting with GFF representatives on soft financing options for Bangladeshi entrepreneurs who want to invest in green technology.

At the meeting, they requested the GFF to allocate more funds to small and medium entrepreneurs with long-term instalment and minimum interest facilities to help them install environment-friendly equipment in factories.

The GFF assured the BGMEA it would reduce interest, which is now 4 per cent. It also said it would increase the amount of funding after disbursing the first round.

On Aug 25, BGMEA signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the GFF to support and strengthen the development and uptake of innovative sustainability solutions, particularly to improve environmental and social sustainability in Bangladeshi factories.

As per the MoU, the GFF aims to invest up to $10 million in Bangladeshi textile manufacturing companies in the next two years and up to $25 million in total, subject to availability.

The collaboration aims to provide manufacturers with access to finance and help them build a restorative and regenerative apparel supply chain.

This will lead to the use of recyclable and safe materials, clean and less energy, closed-loop manufacturing, the creation of jobs, and growth.

Faruque said the GFF had told them its representatives would come to Bangladesh early next year and might start distributing the MoU fund.

“We believe our small and medium entrepreneurs may get long-term financial support with minimum interest that will help them install green machinery,” he added.

According to the US Green Building Council, Bangladesh has 170 LEED-certified factories, including 150 garment manufacturing units, the highest in the world.

Besides, with the latest addition, the country now has 44 platinum-, 93 gold-, and nine silver-certified garment factories.

The BGMEA said around 400 factories were waiting for LEED certifications.

Industry insiders said owners have to invest around double or more to set up green factories compared to general ones.

But buyers do not give fair prices even for products made at green factories, they said.

“We are investing in the green sector to reduce carbon emissions as part of our social responsibility. It is our asset, and we feel proud that seven of the top 10 green factories in the world are in Bangladesh,” Sheikh HM Mustafiz, managing director of Cute Dress Industry, a platinum-certified garment factory, told The Business Post.

BGMEA leaders held a meeting with major European buyers, including Zara, Inditex, and Primark, on November 10.

They presented their green and workers’ safety initiatives there, demanding fair prices.

“We told them we had made enough improvements, even more than their requirements, and now it is their responsibility to ensure fair prices,” Faruque said.

“Also, we told them our production cost had increased due to high raw material prices and the recent fuel price hike. That is why their payments are not enough,” he said. He further said they had urged buyers to ensure fair prices because “we are trying to reduce carbon emissions.”

The BGMEA official said buyers had assured them they would increase prices.