Ethical scores in Bangladesh rose by an average of 15 per cent during the past 12 months, according to a recent report. The survey says that the results reflect the continuous pressure to improve, which is put on Bangladesh based textile and apparel manufacturers by the industry groups formed after the Rana Plaza collapse in the year 2013.
A look at ethical performance by region indicates little change for Chinese manufacturers, with average scores flat at 7.7 out of 10, notes the 2018 Q2 Barometer report by AsiaInspection (AI). By contrast, South and Southeast Asia are showing some much-needed improvement.
In spite of the increase in ethical scores, AI data shows that factories in Bangladesh are still plagued by health and safety issues, which were ranked the most pressing concern of Q1 2018, taking over working hours and wage compliance. Factory scores for health and safety are roughly 9 per cent behind the aggregated average.
The AI survey’s data is consistent with the field data of AI structural safety audits, which indicate the percentage of factories at immediate risk is steadily inching upwards. Overall, only a third of all factories received a passing grade for combined structural, fire and electric safety, while 57 per cent require remediation to mitigate medium-term risks. Also, the majority of critical safety violations observed by AI this quarter were attributable to fire safety issues, adds the report.
There is a strong demand for environmental audits, especially in China where brands and manufacturers struggle to comply with the new anti-pollution laws, as per the survey. Pollution and waste management accounted for over 80 per cent of non-compliances found by AI in Q1 2018, with over two-thirds of them classified as major.
Overall, ethical audit scores in Q1 2018 offer some hope for improvement after a disappointing performance last year, with a lower share of critically non-compliant (‘Red’) factories compared to early 2017. The report also says that Growth remains robust in Southeast Asia, with Cambodia continuing to outpace its economic forecast for the second year running, and inspection demand rising 22.4 per cent YoY in Q1 2018. Pakistan also maintains momentum gained during last year, with inspection volumes expanding 10.3 per cent YoY in Q1 2018.
Sourcing outside of Asia maintains an upward trajectory, reflecting the ever-increasing diversification of sourcing patterns, according to AI survey. The Latin American region serves as a prime example, with first-quarter demand for inspections and audits increasing 26 per cent YoY.