Bangladesh’s textile industry is the world’s second largest with a workforce of more than 4 million people. It is the country’s most important industrial sector and accounts for around 81 percent of the total export earnings. The rising demand for denim is a central area of growth within this sector. Germany is not only a significant importer in this case, but also a trade hub for other European countries. Denim Expert Ltd. (DEL), a vertically integrated company, has recognized the opportunities and its associated ecological and social responsibilities. A sustainable denim production is essential to stay competitive in the long term and to further grow export volume. DEL devotes itself to its own factory’s as well as Bangladesh’s entire denim industry’s sustainability. A commitment, which pays off and receives subsidies: In late 2015, the modern textile factory entered into a development partnership with the Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (DEG; German Investment and Development Company) as part of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (BMZ) develoPPP.de program to further expand its commitment regarding sustainability, education, and information exchange.
The denim market is booming. Around 70 percent of all global denim products are made in Asia. Bangladesh is the second largest denim supplier for Europe (particularly jeans) and the third largest for the USA. In 2015 alone, Bangladeshi denim exports to Europe grew by 15.53% to 932.86 million Euros. Currently, there are 26 denim factories in Bangladesh.
The growing global demand for denim boosts the textile industry and creates new possibilities for the advancement of a fair textile production in countries such as Bangladesh. The vertically integrated company Denim Expert Ltd., operating from Chittagong in Bangladesh, is a leading business when it comes to sustainability. The factory’s earthquake-proof architecture and its ecological and social responsibility serve as a role model for the entire Bangladeshi denim industry. The company cares about the continuous optimization of its own operations as well as about strengthening the country’s economy.
It is for this reason that Denim Expert Ltd. (DEL) received support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development’s program, which subsidizes sustainable projects in developing and emerging markets.
These types of developmental collaborations with the private sector are aimed at the creation of developmental effectiveness to improve the living conditions in those developing and emerging markets.
The program is co-financed by the DEG. Mostafiz Uddin, managing director, explains:
“In order to strengthen the denim business in the long term, the textile industry’s social and ecological standards must be improved. The develoPPP.de program supports us financially and structurally to enable us to put our sustainable ideas into practice.”
The developmental collaboration was launched in December 2015 and is designed for two years. DEL also qualified for the program due to its great commitment regarding the reduction of water and energy consumption as well as the use of chemicals. This is exactly where the denim industry struggles: To achieve the typical “used look” of jeans, traditional factories apply many washings and chemicals. Responsibility toward natural resources such as gas, oil, and water, or the reduction of chemicals and proper waste water treatment are hardly found.
Besides optimizing its own environmental awareness, DEL will also build a denim production training center equipped with modern tools and machinery, which will be open for DEL’s staff as well as external workers. Up to 100 trainees will be able to receive education in theory and practice at the same time. This dual training system will be well comparable with the known German systems. Educational partners for the center are the Chittagong University of Engineering & Technology (CUET), the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the Karnaphuli Export Processing Zone (KEPZ), and the Bangladesh Denim Expo (BDE). Included in the curriculum are social and environmental standards, and production and quality management. The courses will provide specialist knowledge on washing, dyeing, design, and product development. The curricula will be developed in cooperation with lecturers and students of the educational partners mentioned above and adapted to the needs of each target group (students, career starters, tailors, foremen, managers, etc.). Mostafiz Uddin is personally involved in the compilation of the training documentation and he will even teach several of the classes. In the long run, Denim Expert Ltd. does not only want to improve its own environmental footprint, but also help create a more sustainable textile industry in Bangladesh.
You can read more about the Denim Expert here.