As Bangladesh joined the world in observing Earth Day on Sunday, experts sought measures to eliminate single-use plastics along with global regulation for the disposal of plastics.
This year’s objective set by the day’s founders, the Earth Day Network (EDN), is to focus on mobilising the world to end plastic pollution.
According to a 2016 study conducted by Environment and Social Development Organisation (ESDO), 60 most popular and commonly used beauty and cleaning products in Bangladesh, including face wash, detergent, body wash, nail polish, toothpaste, and face and body scrub contain these harmful microbeads.
The study titled ‘Microbeads Pollution Scenario in Bangladesh’ says every month around 8,000 billion microbeads flow into water bodies in and around three major cities -- Dhaka, Chattogram and Sylhet.
In Dhaka city alone, some 7,000 billion microbeads get in the surrounding water bodies and wastelands. In Chittagong city, the number is some 1,000 billion while it is around 200 billion in Sylhet city.
Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, additional research director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), told UNB that Bangladesh is perhaps one of the countries with fastest growth in consumption of plastic products during the last decade.
Between 2005 and 2014, plastic consumption in urban areas of the country has increased significantly (by 169 pc although overall national consumption has increased by 16.2 pc) which is even higher compared to other countries and regions such as North America (32 pc), Asia (80 pc), Europe (37 pc) and world (25 pc).
From poisoning and injuring marine life to the ubiquitous presence of plastics in people’s food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening planet’s survival.
Dr Ahmed Kamruzzaman Majumdar, the Head of Environment Science Department of Stamford University of Bangladesh, told a seminar here on Saturday that micro plastic particle microbeads are being used in soap, facial creams, toothpastes, detergents and other toiletries and those are being spread to the environment.
He said as the particles are very minute, they can enter into fish through their foods, and thus it goes in human body which may even cause cancer.
The seminar was told at least five trillion plastic bags were used all over the world last year and only 10 percent of those were recycled while the rest thrown into the environment. Every year eight million metric ton of plastic get deposited in the oceans.
EDN will leverage the platform of Earth Day and the growing interest in the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2020 as a catalyst for global action.
At a UNESCO conference in San Francisco in 1969, peace activist John McConnell proposed that a day should be set aside to honour the Earth and the Environment.
The first Earth Day was observed the following year in 1970. Now it is celebrated in 192 countries across the world by around one billion people.