Ethics fighting against price Lanka apparels to go Green

Sri Lanka’s apparel industry says it would take its campaign for ethical manufacturing practices called ‘Garments without Guilt’ to the next level by promoting sustainable manufacturing and encouraging garment factories to go green.


The Garments without Guilt (GWG) campaign was launched by the Joint Apparel Associations Forum (JAAF) several years ago to educate western retailers that Sri Lanka’s garment industry upheld international labour standards where factories were not sweatshops, provided decent working conditions and other benefits to workers, and where children had no place in factories.


Chairman of the Apparel Exporters’ Association Kumar Mirchandani speaking to the Island Financial Review said the campaign would go on to the next level where GWG would not only mean decent working conditions but sustainable manufacturing process.


"We would now encourage all our factories to implement green initiatives, establish clean production processors and create sustainable carbon friendly environments," he said.


Sri Lanka has been able to challenge competition by showcasing our Ethical Manufacturing practices with GWG. Many were sceptical when we started, but our stance is now known worldwide and has granted us recognition beyond our initial expectations," Mirchandani said.


"After careful study and analysis of the next move we need to make, we have identified that going green would be absolutely essential in the years to come.  Above all, it is the right thing to do and must be done by all apparel makers hoping to compete in the years to come," he said.


The Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters’ Association is conducting a seminar for the industry titled "The Future of Apparel - 10 Easy Steps to Going Green" next week.


Mirchandani said, however, that ethical manufacturing alone would not help woo retailers who are constantly demanding for cheaper prices, stressing the need for a continuance of GSP Plus trade concessions.


Paying for ethical manufacturing...


One of the conditions for GSP Plus concessions is that Sri Lanka ratified and implement International Labour Organisation’s core labour standards, but Mirchandani said countries that have not ratified these convensions benefited because they could offer cheaper prices.


There is a cost to maintain ethical labour practices but western retailers are not interested in paying a little extra.


A report published earlier this year by the Cleans Clothes Campaign (CCC) said that major retailers in the US and EU are making profits, despite the financial crisis, through "everyday low prices made possible by subsidies from millions of people around the world."


It said that large retailers, (referred to as Giants) are taking steps to resolve labour rights throughout their supply chains.


"But it is clear from the evidence we found that these steps are not enough—and further, that the Giants’ purchasing practices are making matters worse," the CCC said in its report.


"The Giants are undermining their own ethical standards on a daily basis through purchasing relationships with suppliers that not only make violations of labour rights more likely—they make them inevitable," it said.


The CCC had interviewed 440 garment workers in Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Thailand and to several employees of buying offices as well.


Working excessive hours for poor wages, deprived of forming unions and the lack of job security were the main issues these workers face, although reading the report Sri Lanka was clearly better than the rest of the countries surveyed.


The CCC suggests these Giants set retail prices in a responsible manner.


"Refrain from advertising that creates consumer expectations of unsustainable low prices," it said....Pakistan govt to address environmental challenges costing Rs. 365 bn


Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Thursday said the country’s environmental challenges were costing Rs. 365 billion to the national exchequer and the government was fully aware of this situation while making concerted efforts for meeting this challenge.


Addressing at the distribution ceremony of Green Journalists Awards, the Prime Minister said with such damage to the exchequer, the developing country like Pakistan was losing Rs. one billion daily due to environmental problems.


Gilani said many environmental issues faced serious challenges including air pollution, water contamination, land degradation, industrial or vehicular pollution, waste generation or poor disposal system, deforestation and climate change.


"All these have posed serious challenges not only to the health of our people but also towards sustainable development," he said.


He said there was a long way to ensure cleaner environment for the present and coming generations, and added that the government alone could not meet this gigantic task until every Pakistani fulfills his responsibility.


"We should be well aware of our responsibilities in a country where forest cover is far less than the internationally prescribed standards," he added.


He said enhancing forest covered area is an enormous challenge as air pollution level in the country was four to five times higher than the WHO prescribed standards.


He also said water contamination, effluent treatment and saving the rivers and small tributaries from contamination for saving marine life as other challenges.


Gilani added: "This situation should not discourage us and deter our journey towards a cleaner Pakistan. We also have success stories—we owe to our policy makers and experts who have contributed a lot to steer the country out of this dilemma."


He said the progress in sanitation sector, as Pakistan was leading the regional countries in overall sanitation cover.


He said though a large segment of the society still waited this facility, Pakistan had been acknowledged as the top country with sanitation cover at SACOSAN-III in New Delhi last year.


The Premier said another worth mentioning project was the "Clean Drinking Water for All" initiative under which the government would be installing water treatment plants at Union Council level.


Recently the Cabinet has approved the first ever Drinking Water Policy for the country.


He said the government was also committed towards cleaner air and had started the Clean Air Project as well.


He said commitment of the present government was also evident from the decision of celebrating 2009 as the National Year of Environment wherein a number of activities were arranged to raise awareness among masses on the environmental issues.


Gilani expressed pleasure to mention the will and commitment of those poor planters of Kety Bunder who set the new world record of planting maximum number of trees in one day.


He said they won laurels for the nation by planting 541,000 saplings in one day and recorded Pakistan’s name in the Guinness Book of World Records.


He mentioned another commendable decision of the government of celebrating August 18 each year as the National Tree Plantation Day.


He said millions of saplings were planted this year on this day and hoped the Environment Ministry will remain committed to this national obligation because trees are the custodians of motherland and guarantee a cleaner environment.


In the changing global scenario, he said the government was also encouraging Clean Development Mechanism to earn more and more Carbon Credit and remains committed to lowest emissions.


As Pakistan is among the top 12 vulnerable countries of the world to climate change, he urged the policy makers within the country to adopt mitigation and adaptation measures and also called upon the international community, particularly developed nations, to support Pakistan with financial as well as technical assistance.

Source : The Island Business