On the 28th February to 3rd March, during a week where 7 tanneries in Savar had their water and power supplies turned off by the Department of Environment, the Sustainable Leather Foundation was in the area auditing Austan Ltd and Picard (Bangladesh) Ltd. Our Managing Director, Deborah Taylor, first visited Bangladesh last November where she spoke at the Bangladesh International Investment Summit and then visited a number of tanneries, product manufacturers and associations. This time around was to conduct audits, with her co-auditor, Zain Akber.
The full SLF Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) audits were conducted at both the tannery and the product manufacturing facility, and the results show that both facilities are meeting standards across all areas. You can see the Transparency Dashboard’s for both facilities by visiting the website here:
Picard (Bangladesh) Ltd are the first product manufacturer to have an audit and listing on the SLF Transparency Dashboard and this is just the start of the widening out of value-chain connections through the platform. This will allow the good practice and certification to link through to the brand in a connected way. There is also the opportunity to use QR technology to reaffirm the certification.
For tanneries in Savar this is an opportunity to start demonstrating compliance in order to prevent further closures by the DoE and to gain valuable support from the Sustainable Leather Foundation in development and good practice.
Taylor said of her visit “the external perception of the leather industry in Bangladesh is entirely based on the historic pollution of Hazaribagh and now the current pollution in Savar. Little to no coverage is given to the facilities who are performing to good standards, and I am convinced that Bangladesh has the capability to rewrite its reputation and become a real contender on the international market. However, we need the tanneries in Savar to up their game in terms of working on all those elements of sustainable good practice that are within their control. This also includes responsibility for external industries that support the facilities such as solid waste removal – knowing that the waste isn’t being dumped where it can add to the environment pollution. Then we can encourage and work with the government to assist with the malfunctioning CETP to support the transition from a highly polluting area to a compliant, environmentally responsible tannery district”.
Ibnul Wara, Managing Director of Austan stated “Sustainable Leather Foundation takes a throrough and inclusive approach towards setting high industry standards for the leather sector, We are proud to be the first SLF certified tannery and product manufacturer in Bangladesh. As members we are committed to a continuous improvement process working closely with the SLF team.”
Zain Akber, an experienced leather industry consultant and SLF auditor commented “I have been impressed with the two facilities we have audited in the region. The level of knowledge that the responsible personnel at these sites had, meant that we were able to trust that these facilities were not just “audit prepping” but that they were using the sound principles of environmental and social good practice on a daily basis”.