Wastage is a major challenge towards attaining sustainability and business profitability. As per some estimates, wastage from production falls between 10 and 30 per cent from intake materials, and that leftover percentage can rarely be pushed below 10 per cent. Unless the product is designed for zero-waste production, one can hardly avoid cutting scraps and defects. What’s more, bigger the production volume more is the waste.
Bangladesh, the second biggest apparel exporter globally, is no exception. According to some, if China produces about 26 million tonnes of textile wastage annually, fabric wastage in Bangladesh is not insignificant either. In 2017, Bangladesh reportedly produced around 16,356 tonnes of knit fabric cutting wastage, which was 12,512 tonnes in 2013.
However, as per a study by Reverse Resources – an Estonia-based software company that has set up an online track and trace system and an intelligent management process of garment waste in Bangladesh, ensuring maximum utilisation and better value for wastes – the country could significantly benefit from adopting more initiatives for recycling wastes from Readymade Garment (RMG) industry for reuse as export-ready product, which could generate substantial revenue if wastes are repurposed into higher grade textiles.
So why is the industry not working towards it?
“It’s not that the RMG sector is not utilising the wastes. As to what I know, there are some mills that successfully recycle wastes. However, large-scale commercial endeavours are yet to gain popularity in Bangladesh,” maintained Md. Abdul Mottaleb, Managing Director, Global Sustainable Certification Services Limited (GSCS), speaking to Apparel Resources over phone. Mottaleb attributes this to lack of awareness more than anything else.
GSCS is a well-known entity that offers comprehensive services in Social/ETI/Technical Auditing, Certification, Inspection and Training business at all sectors focusing on RMG industry.
Many textile mills in Bangladesh are slowly but steadily warming up to the idea of recycling wastes, with a handful already successfully trying their hands in recycling wastes, bulk of which otherwise used to make its way to landfills or to countries like India and China (technically well-equipped) after changing a series of hands to be recycled and introduced to the supply chain in the form of fabrics again.
A very small portion of the waste is also reportedly used in making low-end garments for the local markets as well as filling materials in furniture, mattresses and car seats.
According to reports, Bhaluka-based Simco Spinning and Textiles Ltd. is one such name to have taken up recycling to produce yarns. Established in 2010, Simco reportedly has capacity to produce 15 tonnes of yarn/day from ‘cotton clips’ cut out during the garment stitching process. The eco-friendly yarn is then said to be used for knitting and weaving products like T-shirts, socks, gloves, towels, home textiles, denims, sweaters, etc., for global clients.
Filotex Ltd., a sister concern of Mosharaf Group, is another name which is reportedly playing a pioneering role in turning ‘cutting waste’ into luxurious recycled products to be used for home furnishing and upholstery since 2014. The concept of circular fashion gaining currency amongst global buyers, Filotex reportedly turns the waste into fashionable products like doormats, table mats, terry towels, carpets, etc.
Considering the economic viability of such an approach, leave alone the sustainability aspect, it is perhaps time for the industry to nurture a healthy recycling culture and set new benchmarks for others to follow.