THE fashion industry is considered the second biggest polluter in the world. The apparel and textile industries in Bangladesh also appear to be a major, if not the second biggest, polluter, especially in terms of leaving negative impact on the environment by way of industrial waste water and harmful chemicals that textile and apparel industries generate and use that find their way to the river systems around Dhaka, putting the livelihood of people engaged in farming and fishing at stake. The global fashion industry would need to use three times the currently available resources to meet the increasing consumer demand by 2050 and in view of this, the apparel and textile industries in Bangladesh would also need more resources in future and unless the industries do no wake up to the situation and start adopting environmentally-friendly production process, the growth of the industries would not remain sustainable. In this contest, participants in a seminar that ActionAid, the University of Liberation Arts, Bangladesh and UK-based non-profit organisation Fashion Revolution organised rightly put out the call for the adoption of an environmentally-friendly production system. The issues that the participants raised call out the entrepreneurs and the government on shoring up issues in time before they together turn into a disaster.
Citing an international research, a participant says that every year 1,500 billion litres of water are used in Bangladesh to dye and wash cotton and apparel and the factories release toxic water into rivers and canals after use as only a handful of factories have effluent treatment plants. The participant says that 250 litres of groundwater are pumped from the underground to wash a pair of a kilogram of jeans, which adds to the depletion of underground water reserve. In Dhaka, 1.3 million cubit metres of industrial waste water and harmful chemicals are reported to be generated and used every day by the industries, mostly located along the river banks, which are released into the river systems around the capital, exposing the environment to a great threat. This jeopardises the livelihood of people mostly engaged in farming and fishing while rice in many areas are reported to have already been inundated by toxic waste water. All this leaves a harmful impact on the food chain and the environment and destroys the aquatic biodiversity of the rivers. While many apparel factories claim to have adopted the latest environmentally-friendly technology to cut down on the consumption of power and water, other industries especially in the textile sector should also go for environmentally-friendly technologies.
The government, under the circumstances, must sit with stakeholders, industry owners, brands, buyers and consumers to work out plans so that environmentally-friendly production system could be put in place to minimise the pollution of environment. Leather industries have for long polluted the environment in the capital and are also doings so on the outskirts of the city. If proper steps are not taken in earnest and early, the apparel and textile industries could also be as alarming as leather industries have been for the environment.
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