Plastic Management in Bangladesh

 As Bangladesh’s economy grows and the country becomes rapidly urbanized, plastic pollution has become an escalating problem, especially from single-use plastic (SUP) packaging material.

The rapid pace of urbanization and development has increased the consumption of plastic products and the amount of waste generated, especially because of the convenience, light weight, and durability of plastic. This plastic waste and packaging often end up clogging rivers and other water bodies. Plastic also degrades over time into small particles called micro plastics (commonly defined as less than 5% mm in diameter) that are released into the environment and pose a significant risk to humans and ecosystems. Bangladesh’s annual per capita plastic consumption in urban areas rose from 3.0 kg in 2005 to 9.0 kg in 2020. The annual per capita consumption of plastic in Dhaka is even higher (24 kg). According to detailed analysis based on data collected from a field survey done in 2020 on the waste composition at landfills in Dhaka North City Corporation and Dhaka South City Corporation, single-use thin shopping bags account for most of the waste. Multilayer plastic (MLP) was ranked third after soiled flour, pulse, grain, and rice packs. MLP includes all kinds of food and non-food wraps and packaging materials (e.g., mini packs).

COVID-19 has increased the use of SUP by increasing reliance on single-use personal protective equipment and by significantly affecting lifestyles, resulting in consumption changes that have generated even more plastic waste. The plastic industry noted this and has exploited the opportunity to push for greater use of SUP as the most hygienic. safest option to combat the virus. Simultaneously, current low oil prices make plastic waste recycling less economically favourable. The plastic builds up in waste piles that, if not burned openly, block drains, pollute waterways, and threaten marine life. Informal sector workers who collect waste and recyclables are exposed to the virus while the demand for recyclables plummets, affecting them financially. Furthermore, because COVID-19-contaminated plastic waste is generally incinerated, costs of treatment are high, COVID-19 has thus increased plastic pollution, necessitating urgent action to prevent and reduce plastic waste.

Types of Plastic:

PETE, PETPolyethylene terephthalateWater bottle, drink bottles, cooking oil containers
HDPEHigh-density polyethyleneBuckets (pails), detergent bottles, food containers
PVCVinyl, Polyvinyl chlorideFood trays, pipes, chairs
LDPELow-density polyethyleneCarrier bags, bread bags, food storage containers
PPPolypropyleneStraws, shampoo bottles, bottles caps
PSPolystyreneVending cups, packing peanuts, CD cases
OTHERSAny other plasticsMelamine, packaging made from mixed plastics