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Interview with Ashraful Hassan

Ashraful Hassan
Ashraful Hassan
Managing Director
Grameen Knitwear Ltd.
Grameen Knitwear Ltd.

Sustainability practiced is contributing on profit as well as it creates healthy working environment.
Ashraful Hassan, Managing Director of Grameen Knitwear Ltd., provides an overview about the importance of sustainability in textiles in an interview with Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Ridaa Saiyed. Synopsis: Grameen Knitwear Limited was established as an export-oriented composite knitwear factory, in the Export Processing Zone in Dhaka. It has knitting, dyeing, finishing and garment production facilities. Ashraful Hassan currently serves as Managing Director of Grameen Knitwear Ltd and Grameen Fabrics & Fashions Ltd. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of several enterprises of Grameen family, which play commendable role in the fields of renewable energy, health care, food & nutrition, information and communication technology and so forth. Excerpts:

Do you think that sustainability is important in the textile industry? Why?

Yes, sustainability is very important in textile industry. The textile dyeing and finishing industry is one of the heaviest global consumers of water and energy. Climate change issue is now the biggest threat for the planet and human beings. Developing and under developed countries are worse affected. Textile industry is polluting environment by discharging effluents and emitting carbon. Due to pressure from environment conscious group and regulatory bodies on the toxic chemical pollution caused by textile manufacturers, the industry has been under tremendous pressure to improve its environmental performance while straddling economic sustainability. Textile industries need more sustainable activities to improve its environmental performance, reduce carbon emission, and create worker friendly environment as well as motivation.

What do you have to say about the green project?

Green project has a broader aspect. Infrastructure, machinery and every production process's prime consideration is to be environment friendly by using sustainable building materials to produce products, using less energy, less natural resources, by using renewable energy and biodegradable materials.

What do you mean by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)? How is your company trying to achieve the CDM benefit?

The CDM allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries to earn certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2. These CERs can be traded and sold, and used by industrialized countries to meet a part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol. The mechanism stimulates sustainable development and emission reduction, while giving industrialized countries some flexibility in how they meet their emission reduction limitation targets. The CDM is the main source of income for the UNFCCC Adaptation Fund, which was established to finance adaptation projects and programs in developing country parties to the Kyoto Protocol that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. The Adaptation Fund is financed by a 2% levy on CERs issued by the CDM. Partially we have changed our dyeing process where we can save water, steam, electricity & chemical consumption at least 40-50%. Carbon emission reduction is there. To get the CDM benefit by Grameen Knitwear, all technical processes have been completed, validation of the project has already completed by a competent Japanese company for registration clearance from the government is required. It is under progress hope we shall get registration soon and this will be history as pioneering company in Bangladesh achieving CDM benefit in Textile industry.

How is Grameen contributing to sustainability?

A committed company should take sustainability initiatives. Grameen has been actively working with industry partners and green project initiators by using innovative products and efficient machines to mitigate biggest sustainability challenges - carbon emissions and consumption and pollution of water. Since last two years, Grameen reduced consumption of energy, natural resource, and fossil fuel through energy efficient production, using renewable energy, motivating workers to not waste energy and resources and increase productivity.

Do you feel that the textile companies today are indulging in more and more sustainable activities? What do you think is the reason?

Textile industries are doing more and more sustainable activities. The sustainability issue in textile guide focuses on the manufacture of fabric from natural and man-made fibers. This involves processes such as stripping, blending, dyeing and weaving or knitting and cloth manufacturing, but that is covered in the sustainability issue in clothing guide. This sector is a mix of high and low technology, reliant on unskilled and semi-skilled labour. There is a strong competition from countries with lower compliance and labour costs from fabric to garment manufacturing process that includes dyeing, washing or spot cleaning, drying and pressing. These typically consume energy and water and result in handling of chemicals and other agents, and contaminated wastewater. The guide provides a simple process flow, which reflects some steps that are common across the sector. This is quite generic but helps to demonstrate how the process steps might interact with environmental, social and economic sustainability issues. The process flow is not intended to reflect the breadth of technologies and practices that are used by different enterprises. Buyers, regulators, environment conscious groups have strong focus on environment, health, safety and compliance issues. Also market competition and consciousness development to all related concern is the key drive towards sustainability.

What measures are taken by the textile industry for sustainable development?

In Bangladesh due to textile dyeing industries, the main negative impact afflicting the local environment severely is the hazards caused by dye effluents, which contain both chemical and organic pollutants. These are highly toxic. First of all manufacturers are keen to set up proper Effluent Treatment Plant. Checking is going on for all factories by competent authorities and organizations to ensure that the building and infrastructure is safe to improve the quality of working conditions for workers and reduce pollution of the local environment and water sources. Project has taken eco-friendly textile village with central utility supply and central Effluent Treatment Plant. Seminars, training, workshops has been going on round the year to develop awareness about the social, economical and ecological benefits of environmentally sustainable products and development processes. Therefore, care for the environment must influence the supply chain to use Sustainable Processes, run business operations in an environmentally friendly way, work to conserve energy and reduce waste and exploring and implementing sustainable textile materials and products through sustainable design approach.

Do textile companies undergo the restructuring of the organization and machineries to practice sustainability? What other changes does the textile industry undergo to practice sustainability?

Yes, when some factory is going for expansion/changing machine/setting new project they are keeping in mind the sustainability issue. New factories are setting up with proper and efficient design. Earlier factories were established in an unplanned way, but now owners are making master plans before starting their work. New entrees are very cautious with selection of machines. High productivity, energy efficient machines are now the priority.

Is sustainability practiced to maximize the profit or as part of CSR activity?

Sustainability practiced is contributing on profit as well as it creates healthy working environment. Sustainability focuses on health and safety, sustainable environmental practices, human rights, employees' welfare which apparently looks like CSR activity but majority industries are doing sustainability practice to save the planet.

What factors of sustainability are kept in mind while manufacturing textile products? From raw materials to the finished goods, what measures are implied for sustainability?

From fiber to finished goods, every supply and value chain stage should be less environment haggard, use less energy and resources, have safe & healthy working conditions that are more worker friendly.

Do you think that the quality of the product is improvised due to sustainable measures?

Sustainability activities are a positive way forward so it has a positive impact on product quality.
Published on: 06/01/2014

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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