Blog: Beth WrightWhat next for the Bangladesh Accord?

Beth Wright | 4 May 2021

In the wake of the eighth anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013, just-style continues to look at issues around the tragedy. Two initiatives were set up in the aftermath of the incident to oversee the country's clothing factories for fire, electrical and structural issues – the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. The Accord’s tenure comes to an end next month, and there are serious concerns for garment workers if another agreement is not signed soon.

The Rana Plaza disaster was a wake-up call to Bangladesh and the entire garment industry that building and worker safety should be a priority. Eight years on and the country has one of the safest and most transparent apparel industries thanks to the remediation work that ensued. But while much has been achieved, there remains no room for complacency.

Rapid growth, modernisation and improved working conditions have all helped to make Bangladesh one of the world's largest garment exporters. Yet the industry will need to innovate, upgrade and diversify if it is to overcome the challenges brought on by the pandemic and shifts in global markets, a new report has found.

In neighbouring India, the clothing and textile manufacturing sector is facing renewed disruption as the country is hit by a brutal second wave of Covid-19.

The global shortage of shipping containers, primarily caused by the pandemic, has led to drastic inflation in shipping and container prices and increased delay times for companies. We ask why shipping is facing this container shortage and investigate the global impact.

Meanwhile, the world has responded slowly to China's human rights abuses in Xinjiang, but at least they are receiving attention, unlike similar issues in less high-profile countries.

Primark is continuing to support production and orders in Myanmar despite ongoing violence across the country linked to the military coup in February – with the retailer saying the 45,000 people in its Myanmar supply chain are a "big responsibility."

While online fashion retailer Asos is calling for the implementation of mandatory human rights due diligence legislation in the UK to strengthen the 2015 Modern Slavery Act, as part of the publication of its fifth Modern Slavery Statement.

Staying with sustainability, UK waste recycling charity WRAP has officially launched its ten-year voluntary clothing and textile waste programme which aims to slash the environmental impact of UK clothing and home fabrics through practical interventions along the entire textiles chain.

Adidas, VF Corporation and Inditex are among the 85 brands and suppliers that have committed to a new initiative designed to drive the uptake of recycled polyester (rPET) across the clothing industry and the associated reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs).

UK online fast fashion retailer Boohoo Group says its board is looking into whether it can link senior executive remuneration incentives to Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) improvements.

Global outdoor lifestyle brand Timberland is forging a partnership with regenerative design consultancy Terra Genesis International (TGI) to build what it claims is the world's first regenerative rubber supply system for footwear, with plans to pilot a collection in 2023.

However, current certification schemes for sustainable textiles are not fit for purpose, according to new research that is calling for the introduction of minimum ecodesign requirements similar to those that exist for electronics.

The world has seen a flurry of new emissions reduction targets for the next decade this month, thanks to the climate leaders summit organised by US President Joe Biden. The most head-spinning was the UK's announcement of a 78% cut to carbon emissions by 2035, compared with 1990 levels.

Meanwhile, a new project is underway in the UK that will eventually produce the first jeans made from flax and woad that have been grown and spun in the country.

Jeans giant Kontoor Brands, owner of the Wrangler and Lee brands, is expanding its collaboration with Panda Biotech to bring traceability and scale to the textile-grade cottonised hemp grown and processed in the United States.

While hemp is trending in a number of industries globally, when it comes to apparel production, its use is relatively new.

In other news, VF Corporation has struck an agreement to sell the occupational portion of its work segment; L Brands is said to have resumed talks with potential buyers for its Victoria's Secret business; and Li & Fung's digital incubator offshoot LFX has launched a 3D-as-a-service company to help retailers create and sell products digitally.

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