For the last few years, especially after the advent of the pandemic, concerns have been growing worldwide about the sustainability aspects of businesses. In this regard, the Bangladeshi RMG export industry is no different. Due to rapid adverse changes in the business climate and issues with ethical sourcing, consumers worldwide are more aware and selective when it comes to buying their clothes. This, in turn, has raised the propensity of foreign apparel buyers to assess potential suppliers in terms of sustainability.
Therefore, unsurprisingly, businesses which are yet to embrace sustainable practices are more likely to miss out on orders. As the sector accounting for the lion’s share of the country's exports, the Bangladeshi RMG industry needs to adopt sustainable strategies to maintain their place in the global apparel export market. In the last year alone more than 11,000 BGMEA member companies have lost US$ 3.18 billion worth of work orders due to cancellations during the pandemic. Therefore, it is crucial for the RMG industry to adapt sustainable practices into their supply chains as well as inform potential buyers about said practices to attract and retain more orders.
While Bangladeshi apparel manufacturers are already implementing sustainable practices and green initiatives into the value chain, there is still room for improvement -- particularly for the occupational health and safety areas of the spinning, weaving and knitting, and dyeing and finishing sectors. For the readymade garments sector, the areas to improve on include reducing waste in manufacturing without losing productivity (lean manufacturing), meeting compliance requirements and managing quality.
Businesses can adapt multiple strategies to deal with their sustainability related issues, a crucial one being the use of technology. Especially during the ongoing global crisis, technology can help enhance communication among buyers and suppliers thereby reducing the need to meet in-person. It also allows for real-time monitoring and tracking of products which helps make the logistics system more efficient. Additionally, technology can help companies be more transparent in their activities, especially through supply chain traceability solutions which help companies show ethical sourcing in their supply chains, among other things.
Technology is significantly helpful for apparel manufacturers when it comes to consolidating data, increasing accountability and enhancing reporting and compliance management. Serai is one example of technology that can help apparel businesses with achieving end-to-end supply chain traceability and transparency. Serai is a free digital B2B platform that allows apparel businesses to track cotton and other raw materials going into their products.
Businesses can use the solution to trace order flow throughout the supply chain, manage supply chain risks and collect data for compliance needs.
Serai helps businesses map upstream suppliers and track environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) commitments. For more information, readers may visit https://www.seraitrade.com/traceability.
Sultana Jahan is a freelance writer. She can be reached at [email protected]