Business leaders and experts have emphasised the implementation of the waste management policy to recycle waste plastics and protect the environment from pollution.
"In Bangladesh, the consumption of plastic is 8kg and 15kg in the rural and urban areas respectively," Md Jashim Uddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), said at a workshop on Wednesday.
"But, according to a research, Americans use a 105kg plastic per person every year while it is 99kg in the UK, 88kg in South Korea, 81kg in Germany and 70kg in Thailand," he told the event on "Resource Efficient & Cleaner Production (RECP) and Design for Environment (DfE): Opportunities for Plastic Industries in Bangladesh".
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) and the Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA) jointly organised the programme at a city hotel in Dhaka.
The FBCCI president said, "From this data, we must say that there is no alternative to using plastic products. So, we need to follow the proper waste management policy to recycle the waste plastics and protect the environment from pollution."
He said the plastic industry has emerged as a vibrant industrial sector during the last three decades.
At present, there are 6,000 plastic manufacturing units, 98% of which belong to small and medium enterprises, according to the available data provided at the event.
The plastic sector's export earnings of $1 billion increased by 15% in fiscal 2020-21, Jashim Uddin said.
As a keynote speaker, Dr Rene Van Berkel, Unido Representative and head of Regional Office in India, explained the opportunities for plastic industries in Bangladesh to save raw materials, energy, water, and other resources which will ultimately lead to economic benefits.
He also explained the concepts of design for the environment or eco-design for plastics industries by which pollution from plastics can be reduced after the end of life of any plastic goods or packaging materials and plastic components used in cosmetics, garments, etc.
He focused on the prevention of plastic waste from going to water bodies and saving marine life from the impact of microplastics and nano-plastics.
BPGMEA President Shamim Ahmed said, "Our recycling of plastic waste is one of the highest in the world at more than 50%, according to a study. The global average is 9-10%."
"But we fear waste recycling will reduce further with an increase of per capita income which is interrelated because more people are coming out of poverty. But the collection is less as collectors are less interested in doing this kind of job. So we must find an alternative to use waste plastic for power generation," he added.
Zaki Uz Zaman, Unido Country Representative in Bangladesh, in a welcome speech explained the organisation's roles in the industrial development of Bangladesh.
The workshop was organised under a project of Unido with the title "Integrated Approach towards Sustainable Plastic Use and Marine Litter Prevention in Bangladesh".
Unido – being the specialised agency of the United Nations for the promotion of industrial development – is implementing this project in Bangladesh in cooperation with the Department of Environment and funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.