Mr. Faruque Hassan, President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) (second from the right) presenting Dr. Mohammad B. Rana (AAUBS) (second from the left) a gift in appreciation of the new CREATE research project.

A new 12M DKK research project supports the circular economy in the Bangladeshi garment industry

Aalborg University Business School (AAUBS) contributes to the global sustainability agenda with a new research project that supports a circularity shift in the textile and apparel manufacturing industry in Bangladesh. The project is supported by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Denmark.

Photo: Mr. Faruque Hassan, President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) (second from the right) presenting Dr. Mohammad B. Rana (AAUBS) (second from the left) a gift in appreciation of the new CREATE research project. 

By 2030, the consumed textiles worldwide is expected to reach 102 million, doubled than the current consumption due to fast-fashion. The global system of production and consumption of clothing accounts for approximately 4 to 6% of the greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of the global industrial water pollution worldwide.

Considering the negative environmental impact and resource depletion, the global fashion industry has to transform into a circular system, says Dr. Mohammad B. Rana, Associate Professor at Aalborg University Business School and the project lead of the research project ‘Circular Economy in Bangladesh’s Apparel Industry’ (CREATE).

Several large global fashion brands and retailers are moving or planning to transform, towards circular economy or circular business model. However, Bangladeshi apparel industry as the second largest garment manufacturer in the world lacks complementary institutional and circular eco-system to cope up with the business model shift of the global brands. This is the gap to which the CREATE research project is going to contribute.

- The textile and garment industry is the economic bloodline in Bangladesh, contributing 84% of the total export earnings. The industry therefore needs a system that designs out waste and pollution, keeps products and materials in use, and avoids the use of non-renewable resources and preserves renewable ones. To this vein, both apparel suppliers and brands need to pursue long-term orientation instead of the short-term gain, sustainability-driven business modelling instead of the profit-driven modeling, and partnership-based supplier development instead of the arms-length relationship in buyer-supplier network, says Dr. Rana.

The CREATE project aims to undertake a multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder analysis combining perspectives from the global value chains, business systems, organisational studies, structural development economics, circular economy, and textile engineering. The idea is to have a comprehensive understanding on the green eco-system development in Bangladeshi apparel industry that is linked with the global fashion industry in Europe.

In commenting on the research project, Søren Lind Christiansen, Aalborg University Director, says:

- In conjunction with the world around us, we will define and take part in missions that help solve the great challenges. The Circular Economy research project contributes to our goal being recognized as a mission driven university contributing to a sustainable development.

For the benefit of Bangladesh and the world

Bangladesh will be the major beneficiary of the CREATE research project. The aim of the project is to develop policy white papers and dialogue with key stakeholders to bring a positive change in institutional rules and policies to support the creation of a circular ecosystem in the Bangladeshi garment industry.

At present, Bangladesh does not have any policy and tax rules for a circular system. Thus, the country is not ready to harness the full benefit of circular economy from pre-production textile waste and post-consumed cloths from the global North.

Mr. Faruque Hassan, President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), says:

- Bangladesh requires conducive policy and green industrial transformation. We aim to capture more and higher value from green industrialisation in the global value chain. In this vein, the CREATE project will provide us with research-based knowledge and policy choices and strategies that BGMEA, the Bangladesh government, and European brands can consider in creating a green circular ecosystem in Bangladesh that will be connected to global apparel value chain.

The rest of the world including EU countries like Denmark will also benefit from the research. As per EU policy, European brands will have to transform their value chain into green by 2030. To this end, the CREATE project will contribute to green industrialisation of the European brands through research and policy development for the key manufacturing locations, such as Bangladesh.

Thomas Klausen, CEO of Danish Fashion and Textile Association (DM&T), says:

- We cannot deny the consideration of sustainability in the fashion and textile industry. Circular economy is one of the best possible choices to achieve sustainability-capability that brands can pursue to address climate change and sustainable development agenda. Danish brands are trying their level best to stay ahead in green transformation; however, it is an on-going process that requires strategic initiatives and time. The CREATE project, in this endeavor, complements our strategic vision for green transformation through research-based knowledge generation and policy dialogues.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) is eager to adopt the circular economy in the textile and apparel industry considering its impact on employment opportunities, economic gain, and positive environmental outcomes. A pilot survey by Circular Fashion Partnership reveals that Bangladesh could save worth USD$ 500 million if she could recycle the pre-production textile wastes.

- The CREATE project aims to contribute to what Bangladesh dreams for in sustainability initiatives. Bangladesh relies heavily on apparel export, and thus, higher value addition, reduction of GHG emissions, and local employment in this industry are critical for sustainable development of Bangladesh, which our Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stresses upon. Considering the project objectives, the strength of the research team, and the global partnership, I am optimistic that the CREATE project will be able to lead the development of Circular Eco-system in Bangladesh’s apparel industry and thereby contribute to sustainable socio-economic development, which the UN and the Bangladesh Government are striving for.  The efforts as envisaged in CREATE will undoubtedly help to achieve some of the SDG goals, says Prof. Dr. Muhammad Fazli Ilahi, Vice Chancellor of Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology, the local coordinating partner.

Facts

The CREATE project is set to run from October 2022 till September 2027.

Academic partner institutions in the project are Copenhagen Business school, Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology (AUST) Dhaka, SOAS University of London, Bangor Business School, UK, The University of Dhaka, Institute of Business Administration, and Manchester Fashion Institute, UK.

Knowledge and professional partners in the project are Access2Innovation, Denmark; Global Fashion Agenda, Copenhagen; Danish Fashion and Textile Association (DM&T); Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA); and Ethical Trading Initiative, UK.

Contact

Associate Professor Dr. Mohammad B. Rana, Aalborg University Business School, phone: +45 9940 8231, email: mbr@business.aau.dk

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