All textile exporting countries realize that practicing sustainable and circular production is no more a choice but rather an imperative to enter developed markets, particularly the European Union.
Every textile economy has made efforts to adopt sustainable practices but it needs a lot of commitment and investment to meet the sustainability goals set by the European Commission for letting textile products enter the EU markets.
In this regard, the Bangladesh apparel industry has made commendable strides in safety and sustainability. However, adhering to the new EU Strategies means much more to install and implement in Bangladesh’s apparel industry, as far as sustainability is concerned.
The European Commission has recently created a sustainable directive for the textile industry by launching the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles. The proposed strategy will impact both consumers and companies within and outside the EU and aims to increase transparency, sustainability, and circularity throughout the textile chain.
The Commission’s strategy is formulated based on data that speaks to the environmental degradation caused by the textile industry. Currently, less than 1% of the world’s textile waste is recycled into new fibers for clothing.
The EU accounts for about 60 percent of Bangladesh’s total apparel exports. In recent years, the Bangladesh apparel industry has made commendable strides in safety and sustainability.
The EU strategies underscore that Bangladesh’s apparel industry should make the shift from linear to circular production. According to research conducted by Reverse Resources, the export-oriented garment factories in Bangladesh produce an estimated 400,000 tons of textile-cutting waste (known as ‘jhut’).
The major portion of this pre-consumer waste is currently exported to India or downcycled to low-value use cases. There are only a few recycling plants in Bangladesh so far, which are insufficient to recycle the annual 400,000 tons of pre-consumer waste generated by the industry.
For promoting circularity in Bangladesh’s apparel industry, closing the textile loop within the country is really crucial; so, the importance of establishing more recycling centers in the country cannot be overstated.
However, the local waste collection and distribution is still highly informal and fragmented in the country. Therefore, for a smooth supply of raw materials/textile waste to the recycling plants, formalization of this informal market is needed.
The government intervention along with the industry’s willingness can ensure the formalization of the ‘jhut’ market. Moreover, incentives to the apparel manufacturers provided by the government for the practice of reusing and recycling textile waste can accelerate the momentum of circularity in Bangladesh’s apparel industry.
There is no doubt that adopting a circular business model is vital for our apparel sector to continue our export to the EU and also to prepare ourselves for the upcoming changes due to LDC graduation.
Worldwide, a truckload of textiles is sent to landfills or incinerated every single second, while in Europe specifically, textile consumption has the fourth highest environmental impact after climate change, food, housing , and mobility.
One of the measures is mandatory minimums for the inclusion of recycled fibers in textiles. The EU also announced a clear and concrete pathway for the textile industry to achieve the 2030 goals set by the Textiles Strategy.