Lax enforcement of ban on production, sales and the use of non-degradable polythene bags is seldom followed.
The Department of Environment officials told New Age that they found it ‘challenging’ to stop production and the use of poly bags due to its demand.
As the International Mother Earth Day is being celebrated across the world today on the theme, End Plastic Pollution the government is still planning to encourage the use of bio-degradable polymer bags as the substitute of polythene bags.
It took six years’ research for Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation’s chief scientific officer Mubarak Ahmad Khan to innovate polymer bag using jute’s cellulose as the basic raw material.
A study done by Waste Concern in 10 cities and 261 urban centres in 2014 revealed that the country’s rapid urbanization led to significant increase in per capita use of bags and other materials made of polythene and polypropylene over the last 10 years.
Polythene and polypropylene are commonly called plastic.
Environmentalists expressed concern over the dumping of scrapped plastic items including shopping bags, food packets in landfills in huge quantities causing soil and water pollution besides blocking the drainage of rain waters in the country’s densely populated cities.
Environmentalists said that they found DoE’s occasional drives as far from effective in curbing the use of poly bags.
From July 2015 to February 2018, said the DoE it ran 1,591 mobile courts across the country to enforce the ban in place on production, sale and the use of poly bags.
The DoE filed 3,635 cases against violators of the ban, jailed only two of them and imposed fines worth Tk 3.60 crore.
The wholesale outlets at Karwan Bazaar alone sell approximately 500 kg of poly bags of different sizes every day.
No statistics were immediately available about the daily sale of poly bags at the country’s bigger wholesale markets like the Khatunganj, Chawk Bazaar and Moulvi Bazaar.
DoE finds it ‘challenging’ to enforce the ban on poly bags, its director general Sultan Ahmed told New Age.
In January 2002, the government banned production, sale and the use of poly bags below 55 micron thickness.
Md Akhter Hossain Khan, professor of soil, water and environment at the University of Dhaka expressed fears that plastic waste dumping would make the soil totally infertile.
Urban planner and Waste Concern’s executive director Abu Hasnat Md Maqsood Sinha called for recycling of scrapped plastic made stuff to reduce soil and water pollution they cause.
He said that 880,823 tonnes of refuse-derived fuel, better known as RDF, could be produced annually using municipal wastes as the raw material.
DoE director general said that the government took a plan for mass production of polymer bags.
Mubarak told New Age that commercial production of polymer bag could effectively popularize the environment friendly bag as an alternative of poly bags.