Plastic industry must upgrade waste management systems: Experts

Staff Correspondent

10 March, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh plastic industry needs to upgrade its waste management strategies and expand recycling capacity for attaining a green-based growth, said experts.

The government’s Extended Producer's Responsibility (EPR) policy should address the matter of developing the sector’s waste management, said Tahmid Zami, Additional Research Director of Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD).

“The EPR should deal with increasing waste collection efficiency, expanding plastic recycling capacity, and ensuring stakeholders’ cooperation on the multi-faceted problems," he said.

The suggestions came at a presentation on the role of EPR in the country’s plastic sector at the Third Sustainability and Green Growth Working Committee (SGGWC) on Tuesday, held virtually.

Ziaul Hasan, Secretary of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) presided over the meeting while Wasim Zakariah, Chairman of Standing Committee on Research and Development, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) was also present.

Md Tahmid Zami said the plastic industry is a high-priority sector for export diversification and the country should follow the footsteps of more than sixty other countries across the world that have adopted some models of EPR to combat the growing menace of mismanaged plastic waste.

Speaking at the meeting, Ziaul Hasan said the MoEFCC will work closely with the BUILD and other relevant stakeholders to ensure an effective policy on the EPR for the country’s plastic sector.

  "We will form two new sub-committees on recycling and green growth under the existing Sustainability and Green Growth Working Committee (SGGWC)," he said, adding, "The two new platforms should hold regular discussions and deliberations on critical issues on sustainable development in the private sector."

Wasim Zakariah endorsed the formation of two committees so that comprehensive policies in these two important areas can be framed.

He urged the government to form a platform that will be responsible for recycling of all kinds of wastes.

The government may come up with policy incentives for RMG factories in order to promote waste management of plastic.

BUILD Chairperson Abul Kasem Khan said, "In addition to recycling and management of waste, we also need to promote green growth through diversification and wider adoption of environment-friendly models and solutions such as jute-based pulp, bamboo-based fiber, bio-fuel from waste, and so on."                      

He underscored the importance of close and regular cooperation among public and private sectors through the SGGWC and its two proposed sub-committees.

Shamim Ahmed, former President of Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA) mentioned that banning plastic solutions without alternatives won’t be feasible while financial tools like imposing levy on single-use plastic could be more effective.

Narayan Dey, Secretary of BPGMEA, called for speedy completion of the plastic industrial park.

BUILD CEO Ferdaus Ara Begum said Bangladesh Bank has revised the provisions and design of the Green Transformation Fund to make it more accessible to all manufacturers-exporters for importing environment-friendly machineries.  "The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has issued a SRO to get the battery-run electric vehicles registered," she added.

Prof Eng Abu Bakr Siddique, Dean at BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology, said he has developed solutions for producing various usable materials from recycled plastic.  Nazmul Hasan, Director of Department of Environment (DOE), put emphasis on Green Budget and requested BUILD to support in that respect.

He further suggested that there is a Technical Committee in DOE on EPR where BUILD can be a member.

Representatives from Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Ministry of Water Resources, Finance Division, Ministry of Industries, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Unilever, and others, were also present at the meeting.