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RMIT: Sustainable trends needed in fashion industry

Released at: 16:29, 28/11/2019

RMIT: Sustainable trends needed in fashion industry

Photo: RMIT Vietnam

Sustainability required in fashion industry as Vietnam remains among world's biggest polluters.

by Khanh Chi

Though Vietnam is among the top 5 exporting countries of textiles and garments globally, the concept of sustainable supply chains is new to many manufacturing players in the country, according to RMIT University research.

In the last two decades, Vietnam has witnessed rapid growth in fashion and textiles and now ranks fourth in the total exports of fashion products due to competitive labor costs and favorable government policies, said Dr. Rajkishore Nayak, Co-researcher and Senior Lecturer at RMIT Vietnam’s School of Communication & Design.

“The textile and garment sectors are ranked second after electronics (computers, phones and parts) in generating total foreign exchange, which greatly influences the country’s GDP,” Dr. Nayak said. “The total export value for Vietnam’s fashion and textile industries has been steadily increasing year-on-year.”

And with about 6,000 garment factories, the industry provides employment to approximately 2.5 million people, which is about 2.7 per cent of the country’s population. With such high figures, environmental issues are now the biggest concern relating to the manufacturing of textiles and garments.

“In the global ranking of countries, Vietnam is fourth in the world for discharging plastic waste into the ocean, which has been raised by foreign and local tourists,” he noted. “The soil in Vietnam has also been reported to be polluted due to the use of pesticides while cultivating fiber such as cotton.”

“The increased fast fashion and financial status of customers has led to the rejection of more garments, while awareness about reuse, recycling, eco-friendly production, and packaging is still low among Vietnamese fashion consumers.”

“The number of organizations working on the recycling or upcycling of old clothes is very low. As a result, many of the old and rejected clothes also end up in landfill, which causes a serious environmental concern in Vietnam.”

According to RMIT Vietnam, many of Vietnam’s fashion and textile industries are working to achieve the triple bottom line (social, environmental, and financial] of sustainability, which demonstrates a shift in industry attitude to adopt more sustainable approaches to reduce environmental pollution.

“Industries are installing effluent treatment facilities, which deliver water that is even drinkable, and are also trying to meet the standards set for Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), and Total Dissolved Salt (TDS) on the effluents, and many fashion and textile manufacturers focus on the use of sustainable fibers such as organic cotton, low chemical cotton, bamboo, and lyocell,” he went on.

“There are industries who can’t take care of environmental pollution due to financial problems. Purchasing new equipment and technologies is expensive, which is not feasible for many small and medium-sized enterprises.” He also stressed the importance of support from the government as well as environmentally-friendly company policies to make environmental sustainability more achievable.

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