Fashion × Water Bangladesh
Garments produced in Bangladesh did rise significantly in the last decades, contributing to more than 80% of total exports earnings and to around 14.2% of GDP in 2014. The further expected growth of the sector will intensify the already existing gap between water supply and demand and declining water quality.
more than 160 million people (2014); Bangladesh has the highest population density in the world
VALUE GARMENT EXPORT
20 billion USD (2013) (15 billion EUR)
PERCENTAGE OF THE WORLD MARKET FOR GARMENT
Bangladesh is the second largest garment supplier of the world market, after China.
5,300 taka – 68 USD / 54 EUR (2014)
LIVING WAGE CALCULATION BY ASIA FLOOR WAGE
25,687 taka – 332 USD / 262 EUR (2013)
Garment Industry issues
Surface and groundwater quality in Bangladesh have been declining due to arsenic contamination, saltwater intrusion and land-based pollution activities - such as agrochemicals and industrial untreated wastewater that is discharged to surface water bodies.
The textile sector is ranked as most polluting sector compared with other polluting industries in Bangladesh, while having an enormous water footprint in terms of agricultural consumption for e.g. cotton farming, high freshwater abstraction (for washing, dyeing, and finishing in textile manufacturing) and water pollution.
Most industrial water – as well as about 90% of urban water supply – is sourced from groundwater with a substantial level of unrecorded industrial water abstraction. Especially unregistered or unmetered abstraction are visible examples of lacking monitoring and enforcement due to poor governance in the water sector.
Heavy reliance on groundwater led to over-extraction of groundwater challenging not only industry but also threatening domestic water use - indicated by a rapid decline in groundwater table, especially in areas with textile clusters (e.g. groundwater table in Dhaka has dropped ~ 10m during 2000-2010).
Textile manufacturing processes employ a high use of chemicals for cleaning and dyeing, leading to effluents containing hazardous pollutants incl. heavy metals. Most of these effluents are discharged into rivers without proper treatment causing severe water pollution-claimed to be responsible for about two thirds of water-borne diseases in Bangladesh.
Textile manufacturing enterprises often cannot afford effluent treatment plants (ETP), especially small and medium sized businesses, or are besides the capital expenditures not able to cover the connected operational costs. Furthermore, many ETP facilities are poorly designed or not operated in a responsible way.
Poor governance is also not able to create or follow-up sufficient incentives for the industry to have a rational use of water and to treat textile effluents appropriately.