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The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to launch a garment sector sustainability report that aims to consolidate the industry’s approach to sustainability reporting.

‘A Pathway to Manage Private Sector Impact on Bangladesh National Priority Indicators (NPIs) & Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’ comprises the work of 47 BGMEA member factories in conducting sustainability self-reporting, translating their impact into the language of NPIs and SDGs.

“In Bangladesh, the Readymade Garments sector not only contributes to economic development, but also to SDG achievement: it provides employment; supports healthcare of the workforce; invests in up-skilling the workforce; adopts resource recycling; increasingly uses renewable energy, and so on,” says UNDP president representative, Sudipto Mukerjee.

“While some individual factories produce sustainability reports, the appreciation of the magnitude of the impacts has so far remained outside of systematic studies and reporting making it difficult to understand industry trends and align private sector efforts to government goals.”

The purpose of the report is to measure the RMG industry’s impact on SDGs to communicate with key stakeholders, such as the Government, buyers, trade partners, and communities so that together the industry can take action to support the country.

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By GlobalData

For the past three decades, Bangladesh has been the second-largest exporter of RMG products in the world, exporting to over 132 countries. Exports were estimated to double from 2010 to 2015 and nearly triple by 2022. For the very first time in the financial year 2018-2019, total RMG exports in the country crossed the US$34.13bn mark – an 11.49% increase, according to the report.

The 47 factories involved in the report took business decisions based on their impact on the environment and people, among other sustainability priorities. The data showed that all participating factories have an Environment Management System (EMS) policy approved by the factory management. 42% of factories have set measurable goals to reduce energy, waste, and resource consumption that range from 2% to 15% in the next three years; and have set greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and water consumption five-year reduction goals that range from 5% to 25%.

Around 34% of factories have either a ‘reuse’ or ‘recycle’ waste practice. Furthermore, in the past three years, the factories reduced their plastic consumption by an average of 30%. 

Meanwhile, 98% of factories said they have an environmental grievance mechanism system in place, 6% of which took immediate action when receiving complaints about the disposal of solid waste in local waterways.

Moreover, all participating factories have a Social Compliance Policy in place as per company Code of Conduct (CoC), Labor Law 2006, and Buyer CoC. Additionally, while 11% of factories regularly report on their Higg Index to buyers, all participating factories have set their own compliance-related goals and targets in accordance with internal stakeholders.

Most factories said they identify their sustainability priorities based on baseline assessments from which they take necessary actions to improve their performance.

“There are, indeed, industry challenges, especially considering the ripple effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, yet the RMG contribution to NPIs and SDGs is critical,” the report explains. “The collaboration with relevant stakeholders and sustainability data measurement and management has a pivotal role to play for private sector SDG financing in Bangladesh.”

Click here to view the full report.