Speakers at a seminar have put stress on an environment-friendly production process in the country's growing garment and textile industry which is adversely affecting the environment by excessive use of resources and producing waste.
Terming the environmental pollution 'concerning', they also pressed for the need for transformation in the production process and consumption to reduce such negative impact and sustainable global fashion industry.
The observations were made at a seminar titled 'Voices and Solutions: Achieving Growth through Sustainable Production and Consumption in the Fashion Industry' jointly organised by ActionAid and Fashion Revolution at Brac Centre in the city on Saturday.
Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Md Atiqul Islam attended the seminar as the chief guest. Former president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry Asif Ibrahim, former vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association Faruque Hassan, managing director of Ananta Group Sharif Zahir, and country coordinator of Fashion Revolution Nawshin Khair, among others, were present.
"Though the garment industry in Bangladesh contributes significantly to the economy, it raises a number of environmental concerns," ActionAid Bangladesh country director Farah Kabir said while presenting a keynote paper.
All aspects of the industry namely spinning, weaving, knitting, wet processing and readymade garment manufacturing pollute air, water and soil, she said.
Every year 1,500 billion litres of water are used to dye and wash cotton and apparel for the garment industry, she said citing a study conducted by the International Finance Corporation.
Most of the factories are located along the river banks and hence waste is dumped into the rivers, she explained adding that hazardous chemicals are being discharged into the water bodies affecting the marine ecosystem, reducing fish population and resulting in unsuitable land for cultivation.
The global fashion industry is a US$3 trillion sector and considered to be the second biggest polluter in the world, Ms Kabir said in her presentation adding that globally, the textile sector is the second highest user of water contributing to water waste by 20 per cent, and the apparel industry emits 10 per cent of carbon dioxide alone.
She called for collective move to overcome the situation.
The paper also showed that almost 82 per cent of the supply of water in Dhaka is dependent on groundwater and to fulfil this huge demand for water, groundwater level is declining by 2-3 metres each year.
Considering the existing depletion rate, it predicted that groundwater level will go down to about 110 to 115 metres by 2050 if any preventive measure is not undertaken.
The paper suggested an extensive and transparent study on the overall environmental impact as well as on sustainable process within the apparel industry in Bangladesh.
"Though remarkable changes have taken place in the readymade garment industry, we need to change our mindset and behaviour of shouldering responsibility," Mr Islam said suggesting research and inclusion of sustainable production process in the education system.
Speakers suggested effective use of raw materials to produce less wastage, use of modern technology and coordination among all the measures taken by different stakeholders.
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