Bangladesh wants to curb its plastic waste by 30% in a decade, according to the country's national action plan that will be jointly implemented by the World Bank.
The plan, which is aligned with Bangladesh's 8th Five-Year Plan addressing the concerns of several public agencies and stakeholders, focuses on a 3R strategy for plastic products – reduce, reuse and recycle.
It sets a target of recycling 50% of plastics by 2025, reducing virgin material consumption by 50% by 2030 and phasing out targeted single-use plastic by 90% by 2026.
According to a World Bank report launched Monday detailing the action plan, Dhaka city generates 6,464 tonnes of household garbage a day, while 10% of it is plastic waste.
Referring to waste composition, the report says most of the plastic waste in landfills consists of single-use thin shopping bags, packs, wrappers, and multi-layered plastics.
It says 48% of plastic waste goes to landfills, 37% is recycled, 12% ends up in water bodies and 3% is dumped in drains and unserved areas.
The report says the country's annual per capita plastic consumption in urban areas tripled to 9kg in 2020 from 3kg in 2005. Dhaka's annual per capita consumption of plastic is 22.5kg, significantly higher than the national average.
"With rapid growth and urbanisation, Bangladesh faced a sharp increase in both plastic use and pollution. The Covid-19 pandemic has escalated the problem of mismanaged plastic waste," said Dandan Chen, World Bank acting country director for Bangladesh.
During the pandemic, the report says, single-use plastic wastes such as used masks, gloves, and personal protective equipment were largely dumped in water bodies and rivers.
With support, trash can be turned into cash
Jashim Uddin, president of the Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), said plastic recycling can draw new investments if the government chips in with policy support.
Referring to other nations with more than 100kg per capita plastic consumption, he said the issue is not about plastic's use but mismanagement of plastic wastes.
"Two Dhaka city corporations can provide households with trash cans for discarding plastic wastes. The waste then will be collected and supplied to the recycling units," he proposed at the report launching event.
As the chief guest to the programme, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Shahab Uddin blamed people's callousness about plastic pollution.
"When we go abroad, we discard wastes in dustbins. But at home, we just throw it anywhere and almost everywhere," said the minister.
Eun Joo Allison Yi, World Bank senior environment specialist and co-author of the report, said, "To implement the national action plan focusing on the 3R strategy, commitments from all stakeholders including the government and the citizens are important."
Dandan Chen, acting country director for Bangladesh at the World Bank, noted that sustainable plastic management – from designing a product, to minimising plastic use, to recycling – will be critical to ensure green growth for the country.
She said the global lender commends the government's commitment to implement a national action plan to beat plastic pollution.
Bangladesh progressively took steps in curbing plastic pollution, with varied outcomes.
In 2002, the country was the world's first to ban plastic shopping bags. Besides, the Jute Packaging Act for six essential items – paddy, rice, wheat, maize, fertiliser and sugar – promoted an alternative to plastic packaging.
In 2020, the High Court directed the authorities concerned to ban single-use plastic in coastal areas and all hotels and motels across the country.