Bangladesh a hotspot for int’l tech providers
International technology and machinery providers are flocking to Bangladesh as local apparel exporters are adopting new technologies to reduce water consumption, advance automation and produce sustainable products to win the hearts of consumers.
The mindset of consumers is changing, and they are more into apparel that has been produced complying with environment protection rules, such as low consumption of water.
As a result, demand for environmentally friendly garments has been growing worldwide and international companies have identified Bangladesh to be a hotspot for selling their technologies and machinery.
The adoption of advanced technology in denim production is helping save groundwater significantly as local millers are trying to lower consumption of water in washing and dyeing.
Overconsumption of groundwater in the washing and dyeing of denim fabrics has become a major concern for environment and biodiversity protection, as until now a section of local millers has been using conventional technologies for washing denim fabrics.
In a recently concluded "Made in Bangladesh Week", a group of foreign companies showcased a good number of the latest technologies that are being used by denim washing plants to reduce water consumption.
Improved washing and drying processes are very important for garment items as the country has been heading towards producing high-end, value-added garments to enjoy premium prices
A Turkish company engaged in Bangladesh since 2008 has supplied advanced machinery to 80 local garment companies so far through its office in the country.
Such machinery have a very high efficiency ratio, being capable of washing and drying 10 jeans with the same amount of water a worker would have manually required on a single pair.
Abu Taleb Bhuiyan, chief executive officer of Best Tex International, said he was able to reduce water consumption by 50 per cent in the dyeing and drying processes, both of which help achieve a myriad of effects on denim fabrics.
Previously, a lot of groundwater used to be consumed for this purpose but with the new technologies, water consumption and presence of dust fell significantly in the drying process.
Improved washing and drying processes are very important for garment items as the country has been heading towards producing high-end, value-added garments to enjoy premium prices.
Tarin Choudhury, Bangladesh country director of Jeanologia, a Spain-based company, said the use of their technologies is significantly saving water and necessitates lesser machines in the "smart washing" of denim fabrics.
For instance, it previously took nearly 300 litres of water to wash a pair of jeans but now, the same quantity of fabrics can be washed with only 7 litres to 22 litres of water by using their technologies.
Moreover, use of one of their laser machines reduces the cost of the company by 12-15 per cent on average as it can do the job of 12 to 15 workers.
After over 20 years of operations here, Jeanologia currently has 120 customers in Bangladesh.
By 2025, the company has a target to reach 200 customers as the use of their latest technologies was increasing in mills and factories.
Alice Tonello, director for marketing, research and development of Tonello, an Italian technology company, said their new technologies could wash a pair of jeans with only 14.41 litres of water.
The company's technology can save 1.24 kilowatts of electricity per hour and reduce carbon emissions by 0.60 kilogrammes, she also said.
Bangladesh is such a growing and promising market that 2,000 of their machines were bought by local textile and garment entrepreneurs. The company so far supplied 9,000 such machineries worldwide.
However, this year the company has had no growth in their business in Bangladesh as had been in previous years because of a downtrend in garment exports.
Still for her company, Bangladesh is a stable market.
She is hopeful that the Bangladesh market would grow again as sales are expected to increase during the Christmas seasons in Western countries.
David Noli, sales director of Sip-Italy, a sewing machine provider, said their machines could produce 350 pockets for garment items within the same time it takes five workers to make less than 100.
Noli then said he had already supplied the machine to 35 factories in Bangladesh so far.
Since it requires no humans to operate, this kind of machine is needed for the country as the production in factories will adopt automation soon, Noli said.
Square Denims said the new technologies it adopted have enabled the recycling of 25 per cent of used water and reduced water consumption from 60 litres to 25 litres for the same volume of clothes.
Talking to The Daily Star at a fair stall in International Convention City Bashundhara in Dhaka, Sayeed Ahmad Chowdhury, director for operations, said his company produces 3 million yards of denim fabrics in a month whereas it was 2.2 million two years ago.
Production is increasing as a lot of work orders were coming Bangladesh's way, mainly those shifting from China, he said.
An International Finance Corporation (IFC)-led initiative, the Partnership for Cleaner Textile (PaCT), also found very encouraging figures on the use of technologies.
The IFC gave advisory services on technologies to 414 factories in Bangladesh and got them to invest $128.8 million.
In a year they were able to save 29.5 billion litres of water, 3.9 million megawatt hours of electricity and avoid generating 649,972 tonnes of carbon dioxide alongside 24.8 billion litres of wastewater, the PaCT said in a statement.