Tackle the plastic tide with proper waste management

Polythene bags are openly used at the kitchen markets in Dhaka, despite being banned since 2002. File Photo: Star

Almost everything in our daily lives involves plastic in some way. Whether it’s toothbrushes, a fan’s control panel, medicine or packaging, plastic is ever-present as an essential component. Responsible plastic use involves using it for a long time before it is recycled or discarded. On the other hand, due to the dearth of an efficient waste management system, single-use plastics like sachets, cutlery, wraps, etc continue to significantly damage the environment.

Plastic use in Bangladesh is increasing relentlessly. From 2005 to 2020, Dhaka’s daily plastic waste saw a mammoth spike of around 260 percent, from 179 tonnes to 646 tonnes, of which only around 37 percent is recycled. A recent study by Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology found that Chattogram city produces around 249 tonnes of plastic waste on a day-to-day basis, which could go up to 428 tonnes per day by 2052. A whopping 56 percent of Chattogram city’s waste remains uncollected.

The current situation makes Bangladesh one of the top countries in the world in mismanaging plastic waste. Harmful effects of this include generation of toxic gases like ethylene and methane, which increases daily temperatures. Discarded waste also ends up in waterbodies, landfills, beaches, and so on. This affects the climate of our country, which in turn makes us responsible for causing harm to the entire planet’s ecosystem.

In other countries, particularly in Europe, plastic waste management is often done through a green taxation policy, which gives companies incentives like tax reductions to recycle and reuse their waste. In India, the government has implemented the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), a policy approach under which producers are given a significant responsibility – financial and/or physical – for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products. This has forced leading beverage companies like Coca Cola and Pepsi, among others, to comply with the policy, which in turn has benefitted both the companies and the government.

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