Sustainability Day in Cairo Highlights Progress in the Garment Sector
NNN: Complying with sustainable standards is essential for any textile and clothing company that wants to be visible and compete in the market. The Global Textiles and Apparel Program of the International Trade Center (GTEX/MENATEX) in the Middle East and North Africa helps companies understand and adapt their productions according to the latest international requirements.
The Sustainability Day organized by the project in Cairo in March 2022 brought together beneficiary companies, partners and donors to discuss achievements and challenges in this regard.
In addition, the participants discussed the project results achieved so far through the three pillars of sustainability, which are:
1) improvement of productivity, production flows and processes, using Lean Manufacturing techniques. 2) improved environmental footprint through Resource Efficiency and Circular Production Processes (RECP). 3) better welfare of workers through a policy of social compliance.
Results in resource efficiency and circular production processes
Over the past two years, 20 Egyptian companies from the Cairo metropolitan area, Alexandria, Elbahira and Portsaid governorates have achieved impressive results with the RECP component. Companies invested $2.7 million to implement the recommended RECP measures and achieved savings of $1.67 million per year, with an average payback period of 1.7 years on the initial investment. Together, these measures will result in an annual reduction of 81,230 tons of carbon dioxide.
RECP expert Aziz Elsalmawy lists as examples “companies introducing stepper servo motors into sewing machines, reducing standby power consumption by 90% of the original value.” Another good example was the introduction of motion sensors to control the light and the sewing machine, which “with an initial cost of less than $25 per machine, has led to 20% energy savings in less than two years,” Elsalmawy explained.
Results in adjusted management
The training and coaching session on lean manufacturing, launched in 2020, also showed fruitful results. More than 60 participants from companies, business support institutions and other garment industry professionals have attended more than 360 hours of online training, training sessions and factory tours. As a result, grantees are experiencing a continuous transition process in the factory that leads to cultural changes and progressive initiatives to improve product quality and delivery, reduce lead time and material waste, and much more.
Hend ELhindy, another ITC trainer, highlighted how the GTEX/MENATEX program has helped 15 companies embed Lean thinking into their company culture and implement changes: “The beneficiary companies introduced training schools in the factory, changed designs and processes of the factory, resulting in the reduction of their production lead time. As a result, a total annual value of $178,000 has been saved, without laying off staff,” ELhindy explained.
Results in social compliance
ITC designed a social compliance program with the Better Work and Score initiatives of the International Labor Organization. Seventeen companies benefited from the training, which resulted in 60 initiatives that radically improved the working conditions of the companies’ employees. These included the integration of grievance mechanisms, accident reporting systems, the establishment of an occupational health and safety committee, and the improvement of canteen facilities.
Matthias Knappe, ITC Fibers, Textiles and Apparel Program Manager, explained that the COVID-19 pandemic brought several challenges to the garment industry, but also opportunities if companies respond quickly to changing market requirements to reassess their strategies and production.
“As the world recovers from the pandemic and demand for textiles increases, Egyptian manufacturers are faced more than ever with the need to become even more competitive and meet stringent environmental and social standards,” argues Knappe.
“Egypt has great potential. Sustainability will be vital in helping the country’s industry to strengthen the ‘Made in Egypt’ brand in international markets as a sourcing destination that is reliable, efficient and actively reduces its environmental footprint and respects the rights and conditions of its workers.” he adds.
In 2022, the GTEX/MENATEX project plans to further promote the social and sustainable agenda in the national garment sector by replicating the training and counseling program on social compliance in other companies, while introducing a gender and access component. equitable to benefits.
In addition, the project provides for an advanced productivity improvement program for those who have already participated in the activities.
About the project
The GTEX MENATEX program is funded by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) of the Swiss Confederation and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), focusing on six priority countries (Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Tunisia). The program aims to encourage textile and apparel exports from developing countries to promote employment and income generation throughout the value chain.
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