First National Seminar on Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Certification in Bangladesh Highly Successful - Thanks to all!
Participants from whole organic textile supply chain deliberated on the business case for sustainability with organic textiles. Brands committed to increase their share of GOTS certified textiles.
More than 170 delegates from five countries attended the flagship event by GOTS in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 23rd November, 2016- National Seminar on GOTS Certification - including International Brands & Retailers, manufacturers & exporters, representatives from Govt of Bangladesh, certification bodies, professionals from fields of testing, chemical compliance, media, trade associations, NGOs, academics, consultants and so on. The theme of the conference was –‘Business Case for Sustainability with Organic Textiles’.
Today, out of the more than 3,800 facilities GOTS certified worldwide, more than 400 are in Bangladesh. This is the 5th highest number of GOTS certified facilities worldwide
In his welcome address, Sumit Gupta, GOTS Representative in Bangladesh & India appreciated Bangladesh Textile Industry for their perseverance and consistent efforts to achieve both quality and quantity in their products and exports. The industry has successful in maintaining consistent growth in their export numbers from last several years. Mr. Gupta mentioned the ambitious target of local textile industry to achieve the figure of 50 Bn USD in RMG exports and encouraged the industry to use sustainability and GOTS as a tool to help them achieve this goal.
“I was delighted to see tremendous interest in GOTS and sustainability among the textile industry in Bangladesh. The fact that this seminar had a full house testifies to the efforts that the industry is making in moving towards a cleaner future. Delegates showed great enthusiasm during the Q&A sessions asking experts their doubts, giving suggestions and even sharing good practises they follow”, Rahul Bhajekar, GOTS Director Standards Development and Quality Assurance summed up.
Four sessions of the conference addressed the various dimensions of GOTS as an instrument of sustainable supply chain management.
Session 1- Business Case for Sustainability with Organic Textiles- was moderated by Sumit Gupta, Deputy Director Standards Development & Quality Assurance. Mr. Gupta made a presentation on ‘Introduction to GOTS- Technical Criteria and Benefits to Businesses’. He explained various technical requirements in GOTS standard and also explained benefits to businesses- including brands and manufacturers. He also emphasised that compliance and sustainability shouldn’t be considered an external cost but investments in social and environmental compliances would lead to economic gains in long run.
Ms. Thelma Ruiz, Brands Fashion GmbH, Germany, reiterated their consistent support to GOTS and also announced that they plan to convert 100% of their workwear to GOTS certified by year 2020.
Discussion after presentation yielded the results that a long term commitment from both buyers and sellers is necessary to make sustainable products commercially viable.
Session 2 was titled “Quality Assurance through GOTS” and was moderated by Rahul Bhajekar, GOTS Director Standards Development & Quality Assurance. Mr. Abdul Mottaleb, CERES Bangladesh made a presentation on ‘Social Issues- Common non-compliances in the region and examples of best practices’. He mentioned common audit findings in fields of safety, occupational health and other issues related to payment and overtime. He indicated that situation is constantly improving but industry still needs to work on various aspects including accurate time recording system, yearly increments etc.
Amran Hossain, CU Certifications Ltd, Bangladesh made a presentation on ‘Environment Issues- Common non-compliances in the region and examples of best practices’. He introduced local legal requirements and GOTS requirements for environment safety. He also spoke about commonly prevalent non-compliances in the region like water spillage on floor; untreated water being mixed with surface water, non-functional Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) etc. He also gave examples of some best practices like shaded & selected area for sludge drying, flowmeters at inlets & outlets, safety fence at heights etc.
Session 3- Leading the Way to Best Practices – was moderated by Rahul Bhajekar again.
Mr. Bhajekar made a presentation on ‘Labelling Organic Textiles- Legal Conditions and GOTS Requirements’. He gave details about the legal basis existing in the EU, USA and in India on the labelling of ‘organic fibres and textiles’. He also informed the new rule that GOTS Logo can now be used by chemical suppliers in their promotional documents, with payment of ‘Additives License Fee’. He also emphasised the importance of Transaction Certificates for maintaining traceability of products in whole supply chain.
Mr. Mohi Uddin Ahmed, EHS Plus Center, Bangladesh gave a very informative presentation on ‘Developing a Chemical Management Program in a Textile Process House’. The presentation served as a mini training session for the industry on how to do it right when it comes to handling chemicals and related documentation for a textile process house.
The next presentation in the session was on ‘Prospects and Challenges of Organic Cotton in Bangladesh’. Dr. Md. Fakhre Alam Ibne Tabib, Deputy Director, Cotton Development Board (CDB) made the presentation on behalf of Dr. Md. Farid Uddin, Executive Director, CDB, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. He spoke about various initiatives Govt of Bangladesh has undertaken to support cotton cultivation in Bangladesh. From a couple of years, the govt has also started promoting cultivation of organic cotton in the country and this would further enhance competitiveness of the country as a source of organic textiles.
Session 4 was a Panel Discussion on ‘Challenges in Sustainable Supply Chain and Opportunities with GOTS’. Session moderator, Raashid Ashraf Khan, CEO, Silver Composite Textile Mills Ltd drove the discussions forward with his insightful questions for the panelists, coming from all areas of the textile chain including laboratory and certifiers. The Panelists were Taslimul Hoque, DGM, Procurement, Square Textiles Ltd, Bangladesh; Nur Alam, Lab Operations and Technical Manager, ULVS Bangladesh Ltd; Tahura Khanam, Auditor, OneCert Bangladesh; Saurabh Gupta, Director, AEON Commercial India Pvt Ltd, India and Farzana Hussain, AGM (Sourcing & Marketing), Flamingo Fashion Ltd, Bangladesh.
The panel discussed major challenges in organic textile industry regarding sustainability. In his conclusion, Khan said that there is lack of training and awareness among employees about sustainable practices. Top management of companies must take a forward-thinking approach and actively engage in implementing these preparations. An important technical aspect is to ensure consistency in quality of raw materials (yarns, fabrics) made from organic fibres and buyers should accept the given quality. With a holistic sustainability standard like GOTS, organic textile industry has an opportunity to use it as a tool that includes all aspects of sustainability including social and environment compliances and is acceptable globally.
Mr. Sumit Gupta proposed formal vote of thanks at the end of the event. He thanked all sponsors, partners, speakers, media and attendees for their respective contributions to the event.