Resource efficient green industries for sustainable RMG business
In the Bangladesh International Garments and Texstyle Expo 2017, BKMEA and REDCarper365 organized a 'TexTalk' in the International Convention City Bashundhara this week. The theme of the panel discussion was "Managing the transition to resource efficient green industries; A way for sustainable RMG business." In the combination of the academic as well as entrepreneurial experiences, the discussion became enjoyable and obviously insightful.
The term 'sustainable' has become somehow cliche for its overuse in recent days. Especially after setting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we use the term in each and every aspects. In this case, the term 'green' sounds good. Some industries have picked it and others are trying to do so. Such as -- green banking, green tourism.
But there is a misconception regarding the term 'green' among the practitioners. Many of us feel that only planting some trees or filling up the terrace with greenery is enough to be green. But we should be more focused on the 'efficient usage of the resources' in every step of production as well as distribution.
When any concept like 'sustainability' evolves, many people would like to show that they already have adopted it. By observing this attitude Andrew Maynard commented, "Sustainability is like teenage sex. Everybody says they're doing it, very few people actually are doing it. Those that are doing it are doing it badly." It indicates that most of us have not conceived the real essence of being sustainable or green. When we will be able to do that, it will be reflected in all activities of our working as well as personal life.
To achieve sustainable development, only realization of the policymakers or top level management is not enough. Rather the 'holistic approach' should be implemented. Especially the 'internal marketing' is highly required to make all understood that how his or her role can help to save the earth in future.
Only having some rules regarding this are not enough to attain the goals, we have noticed it in many cases. For example -- there are laws regarding smoking in the public place or usage of polythene bags for shopping. But the desired outcomes are not coming as we have failed to make people understand it properly.
Why don't we feel the necessity of being green or sustainable in our actions? The main reason is - it impacts slowly. If a smoker would feel 'throat cancer' just after smoking, no one would dare to do it. As we do not see negative impacts of smoking currently, we continue till to death.
The outcomes of not being 'sustainable' or 'green' are doing harm slowly. If we continue in this pace, once the nature might go wild, then we will have nothing to do. It is already occurring in different industrialist countries in the form of Tsunami, cyclone, bushfire, earthquake etc.
In 2011, I visited the first eco-hotel of Slovenia (Hotel Bohinj), Down the Alps, at the edge of Triglav National Park. In each and every step of operations and its management, they try to be eco-friendly. To be energy efficient, they use solar energy as much time as possible. Preserve rain water and use after required filtering. One example will help us to understand their efforts: After using water in the swimming pool, they keep it for diverse usages in the hotel; Such as cleaning the floor, gardening, car washing, and doing flash in the toilet.
In our country, daily how much 'fresh water' we use only for flashing the toilet -- can you imagine? They produce organic vegetables with the cooperation of the selected farmers. Even their floor-mates, curtains, sofa covers were jute made products. Entire chain was eco-friendly.
I also visited an Island of Denmark (Fanoe) which was totally designed by respecting sustainability. Walking is the best mode, only bi-cycle is allowed for travelling. Old huts are made with the locally available elements. Their history and heritage have been preserved by keeping the modern equipments as far as possible.
We had two professors named Jenny Liburd of Denmark and Tanja Mihalic of Slovenia who taught us the courses on sustainable tourism development and environmental economics, they would do practice the sustainability in their daily life. Professor Jenny, an old lady would use bi-cycle as transportation in all possible places. On the other hand, Professor Tanja would not travel on the plane, if there was scope of going by train; she would not take car or bus, if it was possible to go on feet.
''Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.'' Why do we earn resources -- to keep our family or children safe, don't so? Even in a needy family, the senior members feel better, if they can feed the children properly. Keeping the earth save for our next generation is our duty. Recent floods, extremely hot weather in our country are the signals. We might not see the violent form of nature, but our children will do!
We know, Singapore is buying their drinking 'water' from Indonesia, China is buying 'air' from African countries like Ghana, few weeks ago Delhi administration was compelled to declare 'emergency' for the extreme air pollution! Are we very far from it? Just 20 years back, we would not buy drinking water; today we are doing it about the near price of 'milk' -- what will happen after 20 years? If 'fresh' air, water, sunlight etc have to buy for living, will our children be able to do so? If the answer is 'no'--we have to start right now to be green for the existence of our next generations.
Transition period is generally painful. If we consider, the taxpaying culture in Bangladesh --once it was considered as a burden. But now people are doing it in a festive mood. Investing for being green is like that. Initially, it seems expensive, but if we can adopt once, it will be cost effective as well as environment friendly. Costs of greening are like 'insurance' for our next generations or costs of 'medical check-up' for our sound health. Going green is not the matter of benefits rather it's the question of 'existence'!
In case of public services, we normally think that government will do everything! The reality is -- they have to be busy with meeting the basic needs of this huge population. Till now 'sustainability' seems 'luxury' in the countries like Bangladesh. In this situation, BKMEA is doing really a good job. A devoted green cell, formed by the young researchers, is always working to develop innovative ideas to convert their members' business environment friendly. But alone or individual organization can do a little comparing to the massive impact or devastation. In this case, increasing awareness among the active stakeholders is highly needed.
The RMG involves multi-level production where huge amount of wastage is generated. Besides, as a labour intensive sector, making aware of all employees is highly required. Only understanding of the factory owners can do a little change. If all active stakeholders understand well, the entire working environment might be changed soon. If healthy working environment is assured, the quality as well as quantity of production will be enhanced.
Compliance with the environmental requirements should be considered as an opportunity, not a burden. It will enhance the competitiveness of the Bangladeshi RMGs products globally. Reducing e-wastage is also another challenge that should be addressed through going green. If the green or sustainable industrial development can be assured, it will not only give you the recognition of corporate social responsibility but also it will enhance profitability in the long run.
The writer is an Associate Professor, Department of Business Administration, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet