Manufacturing is one of the major contributors to climate change. From chemicals to energy and water use and even toxic gases being releases into the atmosphere, factories usually are not what you envisage when you think green. But what if that was not the case? We caught up with Fazlul Hoque the MD of Plummy Fashions and holder of the Greenest Knitwear Factory in the world title.
Green Manufacturing is not really the first image that comes to mind when people think of Bangladesh. However Bangladesh has more green factories than anywhere else on earth. Can you tell me why you think this is the case?
Soon after the Rana Plaza incident took place we thought to do something very special which can offset the bad name we earned because of this tragic incident. As a result we came up with Plummy Fashions, the then Greenest Factory of the world.
After establishing Plummy got very positive publicity and appreciation from every corner of the apparel world. Not only did this encourage others but also many other entrepreneurs came forward to uphold the image of our apparel industry and establishe Green factories under the guidelines of certification procedures of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). As of today more than 150 Green apparel factories certified by USGBC have been established in Bangladesh and this number is much much higher than any other country in the world. Besides another hundred plus new green factories are in the pipeline now. So now we can comfortably claim that ‘Bangladesh is the land of Green apparel factories
Plummy Fashions is the greenest knitwear factory in the world, can you tell us about that specifically?
Under the USGBC certification procedure Plummy Fashions not only earned the highest level of their certification which is ‘Platinum’ but also scored a record breaking 92 points out of the possible 110 points. At the time (2015) when we earned the prestigious certificate 92 was the highest score amongst all kinds of industries across the world and so we were the greenest factory in general. Later a couple of factories from different disciplines scored more than 92 but it is still highest score among the knitwear manufacturers of the world.
What attributes of your operation make it the greenest?
There are many steps had to take under USGBC guidelines/pre-requisites to score highest points. We are 40% Energy Efficient, 41% efficient in Water use and 35% efficient in reduction of carbon emission. Besides this we have been generating a substantial amount of electricity through Solar Panels, using sky lights to minimize the use of artificial light to run our operation. There are many other features which helped us to reach at top and to know the details of those initiatives/features you may visit our website www.plummyfashions.com
I imagine that it is a highly competitive space, are you making additional efforts every year in order to maintain your spot on top?
We have to maintain all the special features very carefully to keep our Platinum status valid under LEED certification but keeping our top position depends on other new factories who are initiating green factories as there is no chance that we can increase our original score of 92. That means if any new knitwear factory was to score more than 92 under USGBC then they will clinch the unofficial title of The Greenest Knitwear Factory of the world. But to keep our social status and out of goodwill we always try to take some initiative to keep ourselves ahead of others. In recent time we have introduced ‘Reverse Osmosis’ system in addition to the traditional waste water treatment which made the Waste water coming from the dyehouse into ‘drinking water’ !!
Do you think eventually all manufacturing and industry will be able to be as green as you?
In last 6 years (after Plummy Fashions Ltd established their footprints) more than 150 factories in the apparel industry of Bangladesh earned LEED certificate in different tiers from USGBC and all of them contributed more or less towards lowering our carbon footprint. So far I know more than another hundred factories are also in pipe line to get prestigious LEED certification. So I believe in a short course of time almost all manufacturing units in Bangladesh's apparel industry will be able to contribute towards lowering carbon footprints.