Access to green financing and recognising green actions by the ready-made garment (RMG) factories may help scale up the move to green the clothing industry.
A study titled 'Environ-mental compliance opportunities in the ready-made garment industry: Lessons from the green high achievers' revealed this on Sunday.
It called for reviewing policies about institutional structures around environment and water quality.
The study was presented at a dialogue on green compliance held in the conference room of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Dhaka.
Adam Smith International, MCCI, UKAid and Economic Dialogue on Green Growth co-hosted the event.
MCCI vice-president Golam Mainuddin delivered his welcome address at the dialogue moderated by Adam Smith International country manager Suvojit Chattopadhyay.
Presenting his paper, researcher Dr Shahpar Selim spoke of building skill for cleaner production at low and medium green-performing factories.
"Skill building among government agencies is crucial to effectively green the RMG industry," she said.
Ms Selim said experts' knowledge sharing is similarly important to scale up the greening move.
Dr Fahmida Khatun, executive director of leading local think tank Centre for Policy Dialogue, said factories need to voluntarily adopt green measures.
She said the greening of factories came from advanced economies after financial crisis there in 2008.
"This was a wake-up call and this is necessary for sustainable development of RMG industry," she added.
Greening may reduce the scope for job creation as it embodies the usage of new technologies, Ms Fahmida said while speaking as a panellist at the dialogue.
She said greening strategy should be fitted with the Bangladesh's reality as it needs more job creation.
At the function, Department of Environment director Syed Nazmul Ahsan pinpointed the lack of coordination among stakeholders when it comes to greening RMG units.
"There is also a lack of motivation among garment manufacturers," said Mr Ahsan who is in charge of giving environmental clearances.
He said some 1,700 ETPs (effluent treatment plants) are in the industry but the quality of water is still low.
"We're now planning for strict monitoring of the ETPs to achieve the desired water quality," Mr Ahsan said.
Viyellatex chief executive officer KM Rezaul Hasanat said carbon emission per capita in Bangladesh is lower than others in the world.
"This is 0.46 tonne per capita in Bangladesh while this is 20 tonne in the USA, even 4.0 tonnes in neighboring India," he told the dialogue.
Mr Hasanat said Bangladesh is naturally green, so the products made here are also naturally green.
If one-third increase in investment is meant for greening RMG factories, he said, the returns come within two to five years of investment.
The buyers do not pay even a single cent more for outsourcing from a green garment factory, he stated.
Shwapna Bhowmick, country head of global clothing chain Marks & Spencer, said RMG greening helps present Bangladesh differently.
"We may sell our products differently if we procure clothing form green factories," he asserted.
The clothing giant procures around 44 per cent from Bangladesh, including 15 green factories.
Bangladesh needs to highlight this success story in garment greening as the country outperformed its rivals in green compliance, Ms Bhowmick said.
Some 67 green factories have already obtained the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the US Green Building Council.
More than 300 others are waiting to be certified.
"Bangladesh is a great success story in green initiative when it is compared to other countries," Ms Bhowmick mentioned.
"Bangladesh should market its great achievements with effective communication skills," she remarked.
She said for instance, her company sources 90 per cent of denim items from Bangladesh and 70 per cent fabric of the denim items from local mills.
Ms Bhowmick said Bangladesh needs to shorten its lead-time and re-skill its workers for higher productivity.
Nishat Shahid Chowdhury, programme manager of Bangladesh Partnership for Cleaner Textile, said local suppliers have been doing great work in saving water, energy and environment.
A total of 250 textile factories in Bangladesh invested $39 million in saving water and energy.
They are now saving 21 billion litres of water a year for adopting modern technologies, Ms Chowdhury cited.