Plastic waste imported despite ban!

13 February, 2021 12:00 AM printer

We are alarmed to know that shiploads of toxic plastic wastes from countries like USA and UK continue to enter the country stealthily despite a legal ban on import of scrap plastic items. According to a recent research of Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO), as many as 1.2 million tonnes of plastic wastes were shipped to Bangladesh in three years since 2017.

Reportedly, importers of raw plastic items imported the waste for recycling purpose, but most of those items were non-recyclable and subsequently dumped in landfills. Some unscrupulous traders are also allegedly using Bangladesh as a transit point to further send those imported waste materials to third countries, facilitating trans-boundary movement of the toxic waste.

Ironically, while this gross violation of law is taking place, authorities concerned said to have no information at all that plastic waste is being imported illegally and that Bangladesh is being used as a transit place. It compels us to ask what has happened to Import Policy 2015-2018 of the Ministry of Commerce which strictly prohibits import of waste materials. Or, should we find solace in the fact that in Bangladesh laws are enacted only to be violated?

Environmental pollution has been a great concern for us. With rapid growth in our economy and increasing use of plastic goods, the problem is getting worse day by day. As per the World Bank’s (WB) assessments, there are a total of 1,083 illegal places of plastic debris in Dhaka City with no collection, producing 33,612 tonnes yearly, of which 30 per cent (10,083.6 tonnes) are directly discharged in the water.

Despite having so many laws and regulations in place and the country being a signatory to various international conventions, as mentioned above, our laws are observed in their violations only. The environment sector is the worst off as far as mockery of law is concerned. The Environment Ministry and other relevant agencies and authorities must address the gross violation of environmental safety laws with due diligence to save biodiversity as well as human lives.