“Through the award, we want to encourage the factory owners to maintain compliances. I hope the award will help increase the productivity of factories and ensure workplace safety for the workers,” said Additional Secretary of the Labour and Employment Ministry Md Rezaul Haque while Executive Director of Idcol, Mahmood Malik, underlined Bangladesh receiving US $ 256.5 million from the global Green Climate Fund (GCF) will pave the path for the country to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Bangladesh has already stamped its dominance in the realm of green manufacturing globally, thanks to the rising number of green industrial units in the garment manufacturing sector! The green wave that is sweeping the country since the last few years is now all set to gain in momentum subsequent to some developments of late.
Recently, the Bangladesh Government has decided to introduce a Green Factory Award to ensure workplace safety for the workers, safeguard the environment from pollution and maintain compliance with international standards.
The Labour and Employment Ministry has issued a gazette notification on the ‘Green Factory Award Policy’ as the country looks to attain the Sustainable Development Goals, which require urgent actions to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions.
According to reports, the award will be presented to entities considering the use of eco-friendly construction materials, access to sunlight, the use of solar power in the factory, accommodation, schools, markets and bus stands for the workers within acceptable distances from the factory, adequate free space on the factory premises and the firefighting system. Besides, the use of modern technologies will also be taken into account while picking the winners.
“Through the award, we want to encourage the factory owners to maintain compliances,” said Additional Secretary of the Labour and Employment Ministry Md Rezaul Haque, adding, “I hope the award will help increase the productivity of factories and ensure workplace safety for the workers.”
It may be mentioned here that as per a recent report by USGBC (LEED), out of top 27 environment-friendly establishments, 14 belong to Bangladeshi garments and textile factories while according to a data compiled by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Indonesia has the highest-ranked garment factory in USGBC LEED Platinum category with 101 points out of 110.
While among the local units, Remi Holdings Limited has achieved 97 points, Tarasima Apparels Limited 93, Plummy Fashions Limited 92, Mithela Textile Industries Limited 91, and Vintage Demin Studio Limited, AR Jeans Producer Limited and Karooni Knit Composite Limited got 90 points each.
Besides, Designer Fashion Limited has attained 89 points, Green Textile Limited Unit-3 and Kenpark-2 achieved 88, while Columbia Washing Plant Limited, Toshrifa Industries Limited (fabric division) and Cute Dress Industry Limited ranked ninth with 87 each even as Echotex Limited has registered its position as the tenth Platinum rated factory with 86 points.
Meanwhile, pertaining to the Green Factory Award, a total of 30 awards will be given to various sectors, with the highest five awards for a single industry even as an evaluation committee has been tasked with initially submitting a proposal or recommendation to the core committee of the Ministry for scrutiny of the number of awards to be given in each sector.
According to reports, the evaluation committee will also assess a factory’s safety measures, cleanliness, adequate and efficient ventilation and lighting at factories, tolerable noise and comfortable warmth, low carbon emissions, registered doctors and nurses for the workers and best electrical fittings in addition to state-of-the-art equipment to avoid accidents.
For environmental compliances, the committee will look into the factory’s approval from concerned authorities, waste management, ETP management, dust, smoke or pollution management, the quality of drinking water, toilets, laundry facilities, chemical and other risk management to protect workers and energy efficiency.
The eligible factory will have to have trade unions; preserve accident register; provide compensation; form safety committee; deposit dividends in the worker’s welfare foundation; empower women; engage in corporate social responsibility activities for employees; and ensure maternity benefits, day-care centres and breastfeeding facilities.
The Government approved the policy at a time when the garment sector has about 34 platinum-rated Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green garment factories, certified by the US Green Building Council.
Following the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in April 2013, international communities raised concerns over the garment sector’s compliance with global standards subsequent to which local apparel producers took extraordinary initiatives to construct green factories, improve workplace safety and protect the environment from industrial pollution.
“This is like rise from the rubble. We have taken the issue of sustainability as our core area of concern in a proactive manner after the Rana Plaza disaster. It is the strongest counter narrative of Bangladesh RMG industry,” underlined the President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Dr. Rubana Huq, adding, “Buyers did not force us to set up eco-friendly factories. Entrepreneurs have done the work of their own accord. As a result, it is, at least, a source of pride for us.”
And now, with the new award, the Government also wants to ensure proper use of effluent treatment plants, create positive perceptions about green factories in the country and abroad, increase the participation of workers in the development of industries, and generate new opportunities in other industries alongside the garments.
The award has been introduced to mark the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It will be presented on the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which is observed on 28 April. Reportedly, all the activities of the industry from January to December will be taken into consideration and the process to provide the award will be completed between December and April.
The shortlisted factories will be inspected by a team comprising the concerned officers from the office of the Inspector General of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE). The investigation team will provide the evaluation committee with the correct documents, photographs and video images and evidence for the final selection and, all registered and updated factories under the department will be considered for the award.
The final assessment will be based on 100 marks. Factories with a minimum score of 70 will be recommended by the evaluation committee for the award and the award recipient will get a medal, certification, crest and Taka 1 lakh.
Meanwhile, in a separate development, Bangladesh has received US $ 256.5 million from the global Green Climate Fund to promote private sector investment through large scale adoption of energy-efficient technologies in the textile and garment sectors. This is the first concessional credit line for Bangladesh, and the first private sector financing from the GCF in the country, the Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (Idcol) underlined while adding the fund was approved at the board meeting of the GCF on 13 November 2020.
The GCF is a fund established within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as an operating entity of the financial mechanism to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change and the Idcol, as the direct access entity (DAE) of the GCF, received the approval of the funding proposal for the programme titled ‘Promoting Private Sector Investment Through Large Scale Adoption Of Energy-saving Technologies And Equipment For Textile And Readymade Garment Sectors Of Bangladesh’.
As per Idcol, it is the largest approved funding proposal for any DAE of the GCF accredited globally.
Set up in 1997, Idcol is a Government-owned non-bank financial institution working to catalyse private sector investment in the areas such as renewable energy and infrastructure.
Under the programme, Idcol will get US $ 250 million concessional loan for a tenure of 20 years with a grace period of five years for financing energy-efficient equipment. Another US $ 6.5 million will come as technical assistance (grant) to develop enabling environment by covering areas such as capacity building, awareness, support in loan disbursal and monitoring and evaluation of the programme parameters.
Out of US $ 250 million loan, US $ 100 million will be utilised to finance textile sector energy efficiency projects, while US $ 150 million will be channelled to four local financial institutions for financing energy efficiency projects in the RMG sector.
The total programme size will be US $ 423.50 million, including co-financing from Idcol, local financiers and the project sponsors, Idcol said.
“This programme is a remarkable success for Idcol in terms of accessing climate change fund to pave the path for the country to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said Mahmood Malik, Executive Director of Idcol, adding that it is a massive achievement for the country and Idcol as a lot of requirements have to be met, and due diligences have to be carried out to get the fund from the GCF.
The fund for the garment sector would be distributed through three banks and one non-bank financial institution and lenders would get the fund at a flat rate of 1.75 per cent for 20 years while industries would get the loans at 4.75 per cent, explained the Executive Director of Idcol.
Further, the Sustainable & Renewable Energy Development Authority is also implementing a component of the programme to strengthen the regulatory and institutional framework at the national level to overcome the operational constraints related to implementing energy efficiency and conservation in the country.
Presently, the industrial sector in Bangladesh accounts for 47.8 per cent of commercial energy consumption while the textile and RMG account for approximately 38 per cent of the total energy consumption in the industrial sector.
According to the GCF website, the RMG sector is the largest industrial contributor in CO2 emissions at 15.4 per cent, followed by the textile sector at 12.4 per cent. “These sectors are not operating efficiently because of continuous usage of old and badly maintained machines coupled with poor energy management. If the current industrial energy intensity persists, along with the economic growth outlook in the medium to long term, Bangladesh will face severe difficulties in managing rising energy demands and achieving its GHG emission reduction targets under the Paris Agreement,” the GCF stated.
Reportedly, the textile and garment manufacturers face several barriers to investing in energy efficiency including inadequate financial incentives, lack of technical expertise and the lack of an enabling environment and the sectors must overcome these barriers so that Bangladesh can meet its nationally determined contributions target of 15 per cent GHG emission reduction compared to a business-as-usual scenario by 2030, the Fund underlined.
The programme provides an integrated package of concessional financing for textile and RMG manufacturers, and technical assistance to create an enabling environment and ultimately to reduce 14.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in emissions.
With the active support and encouragement of the Government and the financial assistance provided by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Bangladesh would surely set new green benchmarks for others to emulate in the coming days.