Medical &Health

Bangladesh’s burden of plastic waste

Plastic is choking Bangladesh's drains, canals, and rivers.

Around 1,700 tonnes of plastic waste is produced in the country every day and only half of it is recycled, according to the Department of Environment.

In Dhaka city alone, plastic waste has gone up more than 3.5 times from 178 tonnes per day in 2005 to 646 tonnes per day in 2020. Of that 646 tonnes, only 37 per cent is recycled, and mostly by the informal sector, according to the World Bank.

It is almost impossible to imagine a day without any use of plastic. Clogged drains, bags fluttering in the wind, masses of plastic piled in dumps, and road corners have become an everyday reality in Bangladesh.

The country produces around 87,000 tonnes of single-use plastic waste annually and 86 per cent of the waste is dumped in landfills, according to the Environment and Social Development Organisation.

Plastic can take up to 400-500 years to decompose completely. However, it degrades over time, releasing smaller particles called microplastics.

When people eat fish, they consume microplastics, as these fishes come from rivers and seas. Around 94 per cent of tap water is contaminated with microplastics in the US and the number is higher in countries like Bangladesh.

Also, the Covid-19 pandemic has made things worse and caused a surge in the use and improper disposal of plastic waste.

Globally, more than 129 billion disposable masks and 65 billion throw-away gloves are used every month – most ending up in our rivers and oceans, according to an Environmental Sciences and Technology journal estimate.

The impact of plastic pollution could be accelerated by climate change in Bangladesh, at a scale that is yet to be understood.

However, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change banned plastic carry bags in 2002.

In 2018, a draft regulation on the use of plastic packaging by food, beverage and agro-inputs industries showed its commitment towards plastic issues.

In 2020, a High Court order was issued to ban single-use plastic in coastal areas and all hotels and motels.

Source: United News of Bangladesh