An effective law should be enacted as well as an alternative product needs to be found in order to attain gradual progress in rejecting single-use plastic in the country, experts have recommended.
Plastic is one of the most severe pollutants causing harm to human health and the environment. Many of these plastic items are used only once and then tossed away as garbage, they added.
The observations came at a virtual project inception workshop, entitled "Legislation for Combating Single-Use Plastic Pollution", organised by the Environment and Social Development Organisation (Esdo) – an action research organisation – on Monday.
Esdo, in association with Plastic Solutions Fund, has taken up an initiative to reduce single-use plastic (SUP) pollution.
At the event, experts said as plastics take hundreds of years to degrade, micro-plastics and microbeads produced from them usually end up in the ocean.
As for Bangladesh, a previously conducted 3-year research by the Esdo found that 7,928 billion microbeads were dumped per month in three major cities of Bangladesh.
According to the study, food wrappers annually generate about 45,000 tonnes of plastic waste, constituting 63% of the total amount of SUP in the country.
Moreover, sachets of shampoo, toothpaste, soap and other plastic products produce about 29,000 tonnes of waste, making up 33% of the total SUP, said the Esdo study, "Single Use Plastic: Hidden Cost of Health and Environment in Bangladesh."
The workshop was addressed by Keya Khan, joint secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, as special guest.
She said random use of SUP is a common phenomenon today, and the government alone cannot improve the situation.
"We need to work together and find an alternative solution. Yet the pathway is a big dream as we, as consumers, are not aware of the use of plastic."
Keya Khan recommended hiking polythene prices in order to discourage the use of SUP products like packaging, tubes and sachets.
It will ultimately save the environment from pollution and severe degradation. However, people need to be made aware of the adverse effects of it, she opined.
Professor Dr Rowshan Mamtaz from the Department of Civil Engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), highlighted the urgency of adopting legislation to stop SUP pollution.
The academic also focused on effective research on this burning issue.
Discussing the detrimental impacts of SUP, Dr Shahriar Hossain of the Esdo pointed out that billions of tonnes of micro-plastics end up as litter every year. These are made of polypropylene, which causes emission of greenhouse gases and eventually contributes to global warming.
Siddika Sultana, executive director of the Esdo, said the government should take steps to ensure an environmentally-safe management of plastic waste.