Single-Use Plastic: Is A Catastrophe Awaiting Bangladesh?


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Single-Use Plastic: Is A Catastrophe Awaiting Bangladesh?

While plastic can be considered a miracle material, single-use plastic is as deadly as it gets due to its multiple negative impacts on the environment, health and economy. Bangladesh produces around 87,000 tons of single-use plastics waste annually and 86% of the waste is dumped in landfills.[1] As most plastics are non-biodegradable, discarded plastic products break down into smaller particles called microplastics. These microplastics can stay in soil and water for a long time causing severe environmental pollution and eventually getting exposed to the food chain. In Bangladesh, single-use plastics are broadly used in restaurants, hotels, airlines, super-shops, groceries, etc. due to the extremely cheap price, lack of affordable alternatives and weak policy enforcement
While 78% of the single-use plastic waste are generated in urban areas of Bangladesh, a significant portion of 22% comes from rural areas.[1] The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies significantly contributes to single-use plastic pollution as they deploy plastic packaging across most of their products in the form of food wrappers and sachets. Among the service sectors, the primary sources of plastic waste generation are restaurants, airlines, hotels and super-shops.
Plastics have serious impacts on biodiversity loss and food chain contamination. Poor waste management of plastic can arouse natural disasters. Poor drainage system resulting from plastic litter blocking the drains caused devastating floods in Bangladesh in 1988

In 2002, the Government of Bangladesh imposed a ban on all polyethylene plastic bags being the first South Asian country to ban plastics.[2] The ban was introduced after finding plastic bags to be responsible for aggravating the deadly flood of 1988 and blocking sewage systems in 1998. Despite initial positive support from the public, the use of plastic bags increased after a few years due to a lack of policy enforcement and the absence of cost-effective substitutes.

The High Court has recently ordered the Government to ban single-use plastics in coastal areas, hotels and restaurants within one year to reduce plastic pollution. The Government also ordered to strictly enforce the ban on polyethylene under the existing law of 2002.[4]

In 2010, the Government of Bangladesh introduced the ‘Mandatory Jute Packaging Act’ to decrease the use of plastics. Since the jute bags are relatively costlier than the plastic bags, traders are found hardly interested in practicing the law.[4] In 2017.

‘Sonali’ bag, a biodegradable jute poly bag was invented by Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation. Few local companies such as Ecospear Ltd, Expo Accessories Ltd etc have started manufacturing their own eco-friendly packaging materials. The high cost of production leads to higher sale prices of these products



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