Green innovation in South Asia’s clothing industry
Green innovation refers to the adoption of technological, organizational, and social practices that create less or have no harmful environmental impacts. Consumers, civic organizations, and local authorities in developed countries are increasingly becoming concerned about the ways in which firms are treating the environment, particularly those firms engaged in clothing manufacturing. In the clothing industry, many firms (mostly buyers) have outsourced manufacturing processes to low cost developing countries where social and environmental standards are very low. But due to pressure from consumers and other organizations, and in some cases their own proactive corporate strategies, buyer firms have started implementing environmental factors into their business models. Thus, buyer firms are transferring the requirements for green initiatives to their supplier firms in developing countries. In turn, supplier firms face challenges in innovating production processes to go green in the absence of any local support and knowledge, or in some cases without the support of buyer firms. Nevertheless, the supplier firms must embrace green innovation to avoid being excluded from buyer firms’ networks in developed countries. This chapter examines the challenges four pioneer clothing firms in the South Asian region faced in embarking on green innovation initiatives. Despite the challenges the firms faced – for example lack of technological, financial, and institutional support – the firms each embraced green innovation and set a trend in an industry where the term “green” was not even known.