More than 500 garment factories in the country have registered themselves for opting green or environment-friendly production facilities, and these units are proceeding towards ensuring long-term sustainability. At present, Bangladesh has a total of 108 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green factories, certified by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), with the highest of 26 platinum-ranked units. The number of green factories has been increasing considerably in the country since 2014, although the unit prices of locally-made apparel items are declining.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) disclosed these statistics in a meeting, held at its Gulshan office in the city. The BGMEA President Dr Rubana Huq presided over the meeting. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Bangladesh Country Director Tuomo Poutiainen was present in it. Representatives from the government, buyers, experts, the European Union (EU), the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and other donor agencies also attended the meeting. Unit price of the locally made apparel items, exported to the US, declined to $ 2.79 per sqr mtr in 2018, which was $ 3.0 in 2014, according to a presentation made by the BGMEA in the meeting.
On the other hand, the unit price dropped to $ 1,515.46 per 100 kg in the EU market in 2018 from $ 1,573.20 in 2014, it showed. The trade-body also identified lack of skills in assessing investment in green technology, inability to internalise environmental externalities, trade-off between risks and return, operational risk and high initial investment, lack of awareness, and shared ownership among stakeholders as the major challenges in mainstreaming green growth. Terming access to finance one of the major barriers, the speakers in the meeting said large factories are investing in setting up green units, as they have little or no problems with funds.
But the small and medium ones are facing hurdles, as they need guarantee to get loans from financial institutions, like – banks. They suggested that the government or donor agencies should come forward as guarantors in this regard. Other recommendations included capacity development of factories, community development for factory workers, matching fund for sustainability initiatives, and incentivising sustainable production process.