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Sustainability: The non-negotiable growth agenda

by Deepak Mohindra

02-December-2019  |  4 mins read

Sustainability is no longer a trend, or even a preferred direction for business, but a way of life. There are no second thoughts about the need to replenish and repair the damages done to the nature by humans in the race to the top. Every business, including those related to the textile value chain, has to adopt practices that are sustainable…; there is no escape now!

The movement is so strong that today the next generation is completely in sync. And they are the consumers of tomorrow. Who can forget the impact of the address by 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist, Greta Thunberg at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in September 2019? She strongly advocated the need for action against the harm that human beings in their race for ‘more’ had inflicted on the earth and the world stood up and took notice!

Not only environmentalists, but Governments too have joined the movement with serious talk on pegging responsibilities and making commitments to change and reduce use of natural resources for arresting the impact, before it is too late.

The Vietnamese Government has recently amended four separate decrees on environment protection that took effect from 1 July 2019. In the amendment, industrial manufacturing is classified into various sectors with different level of risks to the environment. Development of manufacturing projects with very high risks to the environment is subject to consultancy with environmental experts and scientists, and appraisal of EIA (environmental impact assessment) reports of these projects must be conducted by an appraisal panel.

The textile sector is admittedly among the most polluting industries in the world. Who can forget the harrowing pictures of blue rivers in China, where denim was being washed, or the sick workers where sandblasting was a practice?

The fashion retail industry in its blind quest for mass manufacturing of cheap clothing at the fastest possible time is contributing to pollution, more waste and negative environmental impacts. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has found that textile production emits 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas every year, while the United Nations estimates that 10 per cent of total global emissions come from the fashion industry.

But have things really changed…? Are companies transparent in their follow-up…? Is there a true commitment…? These are the critical questions that are yet to be answered, as few companies openly discuss their initiatives and even fewer companies are willing to be audited for environmental compliance.

On the global platform, most of the big retailers and brands are willingly publishing Sustainability reports, tracing their journey and commitment to the environment. On the manufacturing side, there are companies like MAS Holdings, Esquel Group, DBL, Brandix, Epic Group, Hirdaramani Group which not only practise sustainability, but also publish reports that outline their initiatives and future goals.

In this edition of Apparel Online Vietnam, the vision of what sustainability means for Esquel Group has been highlighted. Among the torchbearers of the movement, Esquel is setting the benchmarks high, while many others are just starting the journey.

The good news is that efforts are coming in from all directions and the awareness for the need to shift to more sustainable practices is taking deep roots, not only for the garment manufacturing industry, but also for Vietnam as a country!

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