Polythene bags have staged a big comeback, having harmful effects on environment despite a government ban on their use in the country.
The use of the bags have recently increased due to easy availability, cheap prices and lax monitoring.Jute and net bags are not used much as polythene bags are available at shops.
Shopkeepers, especially vegetable vendors, provide polythene bags to customers for free.
According to Environment and Social Development Organisation (ESDO), Bangladeshi plastic industries produced 195 million pieces of DPE, LDPE, LLDPE shopping bags in 2016.
At least 60 authorised woven plastic bag producers and 156 unauthorised small industries produce polythene bags.
A total of 350 industries produced 3.97 billion pieces of polythene shopping bags in 1998, said ESDO secretary-general Dr Shahriar Hossain.
The number of polythene shopping bags used was 4.36 billion (10% year-on-year increase) in 1999, 4.76 billion (9% increase) in 2000, 4.18 billion (12% decrease) in 2001, 2.09 billion (50% decrease) in 2002, 0.41 billion (80% decrease) in 2003, 41 million (90% decrease) in 2004, 69.7 million (70% increase) in 2007, 97.58 million (40% increase) in 2008, 126.85 million (30% increase) in 2009, 167.45 million (32% increase) in 2010, 484.61 million (29% decrease) in 2011-14 and 395.92 million (17% increase) in 2015-16, ESDO data show.Bangladesh was the first country to ban plastic bags and over a decade later many developed countries are still struggling to emulate this success.
Although plastic bags make up only a small percentage of all waste, the impact of these bags is significant.
In 2002, Bangladesh banned polythene bags of less than 55 micron thickness but production, use and marketing of the banned plastic bags continue due to lack of enforcement and proper monitoring by the authorities concerned.
Polythene shopping bags, poly bags, are randomly used in kitchen market across the country though the ban is still in force.
While visiting Mohammadpur Kitchen market in the capital, the daily sun correspondent found that vegetable traders, fruit vendors and meat-fish traders are giving different sizes of polythene bags to customers to carry goods.
Asked about the use of poly bags, a vendor Masud said they are sold at some shops in the market.
The correspondent also visited shops which sell polythene bags, but some denied showing the bags.
When customers come to shops, owners show different sizes of polythene bags which sell Tk 210 per kg.
Polythene bags are being randomly used in kitchen markets across the country.
Earlier on June 05 during a programme to celebrate World Environment Day- 2018, Environment and Forests Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud said the government will go for a tough action against polythene bags.
But, no drive against polythene bags is yet to be seen in the country.
He also said the governments ban the use of plastic and polythene bags through an amendment while it continue for a while but it back to the pavilion again.
Pollution from polythene bags extremely happen in drains and rivers, said the minister, adding that due to less prices and easy using, plastic is being used every day.
Shahriar Hossain said polythene bags are also coming to the country from Myanmar ad spreading different districts.
Meanwhile, the ESDO observed the International Plastic Bag Free Day with a slogan: “Beat the Plastic Pollution, Ban the Bag”.
ESDO chairperson and former Secretary Syed Marghub Murshed said over 40 countries and 55 cities banned plastic bags. But this began in Bangladesh in 1990.