Cairo Sustainability Day highlights progress in apparel sector

Complying with sustainable standards is essential for any textile and clothing company that wants to be visible and competitive in the market. The International Trade Center’s Global Textiles and Apparel Program (GTEX/MENATEX) in the Middle East and North Africa helps companies understand and adapt their productions 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, participants discussed the project results achieved so far through the three pillars of sustainability, namely:

1) improving productivity, production flows and processes, using Lean Manufacturing techniques.
2) improving the environmental footprint through resource efficiency and circular production processes (RECP).
3) better worker well-being through a policy of social compliance.

Results in resource efficiency and circular production processes

Over the past two years, 20 Egyptian companies in the greater Cairo area, Alexandria, Elbahira and Portsaid governorates have achieved impressive results with the RECP component. The companies invested $2.7 million to implement the recommended RECP measures and realized savings of $1.67 million per year, with an average payback period on the initial investment of 1.7 years. Overall, these measures will result in an annual reduction of 81,230 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Aziz Elsalmawy, an RECP expert, lists as an example, “companies introducing stepper servo motors in sewing machines, which have reduced standby power consumption by 90% of the original value” . Another good example was the introduction of motion sensors to control light and the sewing machine, which “with an initial cost of less than $25 per machine resulted in 20% less energy savings two years,” Elsalmawy explained.

Results in lean management

The training and coaching session on lean manufacturing – started in 2020 – also yielded fruitful results. Over 60 participants from companies, business support institutions and other apparel industry professionals attended over 360 hours of online training, coaching sessions and factory tours . As a result, grantees experience an ongoing transition process in the factory that leads to cultural shifts and incremental initiatives to improve product and delivery quality, reduce production lead times and material waste, and more. Again.

Hend ELhindy, another ITC trainer, highlighted how the GTEX/MENATEX program helped 15 companies embed Lean thinking into their corporate culture and implement change: reducing their lead times. As a result, an overall annual value of $178,000 was saved, without laying off staff,” explained ELhindy.

Social compliance results

ITC has designed a program on social compliance with the International Labor Organization’s Better Work and Score initiatives. 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 notification systems, the creation of an occupational safety and health committee and the improvement of canteen facilities.

Matthias Knappe, ITC Program Manager for Fibres, Textiles and Apparel, explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought several challenges to the garment industry, but also opportunities if companies respond quickly to the changing market demands to reassess their strategies and production.

“As the world recovers from the pandemic and demand for textiles picks up, Egyptian manufacturers are more than ever faced with the need to become even more competitive while adhering to strict environmental and social standards,” says Knappe.

“Egypt has great potential. Sustainability will be key to helping the country’s industry strengthen the “Made in Egypt” brand in international markets as a reliable, efficient sourcing destination that actively reduces its environmental footprint and respects the rights and conditions of its workers. “, he adds.

Next steps

In 2022, the GTEX/MENATEX project plans to further promote the sustainable and social agenda in the national garment sector by replicating the training and coaching program on social compliance in other companies while introducing a gender component. and equal access to benefits.

In addition, the project provides an advanced productivity improvement program for those who have already participated in the activities.

About the project

the GTEX MENATEX The program is funded by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) of the Swiss Confederation and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and focuses on six priority countries (Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Tunisia). The program aims to encourage exports of textiles and clothing from developing countries in order to promote employment and income generation along the value chain.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the International Trade Centre.

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Michael O. Stutler