87,000 tonnes of single-use plastics thrown away annually: study

SUP ban demanded

Rashad Ahamad | Published: 00:16, Oct 22,2019


Bags of plastics, papers and other recyclables lay in a pile at a place for rubbish traders on the bank of river Buriganga at Lalbagh in Dhaka on Monday. — Sony Ramany

Annually 87,000 tonnes of single-use plastic containers are thrown away in Bangladesh causing serious health hazards and  environmental pollution, revealed a study.

The two-year study on ‘Single Use Plastic: Hidden costs of Health and Environment in Bangladesh’ was carried out in the capital and the cities of Chattogram, Rajshahi  and Sylhet and their outskirts by the Environment and Social Development Organization.

The study done since 2018, revealed that 96 per cent of the SUP waste was generated by plastic containers of food and personal care products.

Over 2,000 tonnes of SUP were generated in  restaurants, 700 tonnes in airliners and 600 tonnes in five-star and other hotels, according to the findings disclosed at a press conference in the capital on Monday.

‘And 35 per cent of the SUPs are neither  recyclable nor biodegradable,’ ESDO secretary general Shahriar Hossain said while releasing the findings.

Ultimately, he said that the multi-layer plastics, better known as sachets get into the lakes, rivers and the sea.

Single use plastic includes food packaging, straws for drinking soft drinks, plastic cotton buds, sachets, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles and plastic bags.

Academics and campaigners present called it was high time to ban the SUPs and other plastics in phases.

According to the UN Environment Programme estimates 73,000 tonnes of plastics waste ends up in the sea through Bangladesh’s major rivers, the Brahmaputra, the Meghna and the Ganges.

A study by the Waste Concern, an award-winning Bangladeshi social business concern that promotes waste recycling, released in February 2019 shows that 821,250 tonnes of plastic waste are generated in urban hubs of Bangladesh and some 207,685 tonnes are dumped in the marine environment annually.

It revealed that plastic wastes increased by 17.52 times in 2014 compared to 1992.

According to the study, per capita annual consumption of plastic products in the capital  increased from 5.56kg in 2005 to 17.24kg in 2017.

ESDO researchers said that while interviewing  2,000 urban and rural people during the two-year study period beginning 2018, they found that the urban areas generated 78 per cent of the SUP wastes relating to lifestyle products  compared to the rural areas’ 22 per cent.

ESDO chairperson and former secretary Syed Marghub Murshed said that plastic leached toxic substances got accumulated in the environment to pollute air, water and the soil.

‘Bangladesh must ban single use plastic soon and the other plastics in phases,’ he demanded.

Former chairman of the department of chemistry of Jahangirnagar University professor Md Abul Hashem told New Age  that direct exposure to plastics occur through inhalation, ingestion and direct contact with skin.

He said that plastics were entering into our bloodstream to cause cancer, infertility, birth defects and impairment and other serious health issues.

Shahriar said that in 2002 Bangladesh became a pioneer country by banning single-use plastic shopping bags but later due to non- enforcement the action lost its efficacy.

Except on polythene, now there is no ban in place in Bangladesh on production of other plastic derivatives.

Department of Environment director general AKM Rafique Ahammed said that since 2015 the DoE ran 1,949 mobile courts against the use of plastics, filed 4,462 cases, realised Tk 4.83 crore in fines and jailed six non-compliant people.

He said that the people were not aware about

the danger of using plastics.

During the World Environment Day 2018 celebrations, the government reiterated its commitment to reduce plastic pollution but took no action to fulfil the declaration.

Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association general secretary KM Iqbal Hossain said that plastics were not a banned product and that waste management was not manufacturer’s responsibility.

He said that the country’s over 5,000 plastic factories manufacture a wide variety of products employing 12 lakh workers.

Waste Concern co-founder and executive director Abu Hasnat Md Maqsood Sinha emphasised on manufacturers taking expended producer responsibility, in short EPR.

Officials in the capital’s two city corporations admitted that they collect and dump roughly 8,000 tonnes wastes at Aminbazar and Matuail landfills daily.

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