The plastic industry of the country has witnessed a 20 per cent overall growth annually over the last five years riding on increasing local consumption and growing demand in export destinations, industry data show.
The annual local market size is worth Tk 350 billion while the export volume is $100 million on average, according to Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BPGMEA).Around 6,000 small and large industries have employed around 1.2 million people with 28 per cent of them being females.
Talking to the Daily Sun, former BPGMEA President Shahedul Islam Helal said the plastic industry is aligned with all the sectors related to packaging and usable goods.
“The coronavirus pandemic hit the plastic industry like other sectors at the beginning. However, the growing demand in the local market has helped the manufacturers survive. Besides, the companies are maintaining compliance to ensure sustainable production. The major challenge is the management of post-production waste,” he said.
He said the use of plastic products in garments has emerged as a new opportunity for the local manufacturers to survive amid the pandemic.
Industry insiders said the trade body forwarded a draft policy to the Industries Ministry before the coronavirus pandemic hit the country in March 2020. However, the policy is yet to be finalised.
Another former BPGMEA President Shamim Ahmed said the entrepreneurs in the plastic industry are facing trouble in getting incentives from the government although they have huge investments in the sector.“Prices of raw materials have gone up. Besides, the businessmen were hit by increasing prices of capital machinery. At this moment, the sector is struggling for lack of policy support from the government to boost the exports,” Shamim, also managing director of Sunflower Melamine Industries, told the Daily Sun.
BPGMEA Vice-president and Imperial Pharma Accessories MD Iqbal Hossain said the coronavirus pandemic is still taking its toll on the plastic industry. “The prices of raw materials almost doubled in the last one year as we have to count $1,800 per tonne of raw products while freight service charge has also increased in several international ports. As a result, the local manufacturers are struggling to expand footprints abroad,” he said.
He mentioned European Union countries as major destinations for Bangladeshi products while the markets in America, Japan and China are also vibrant territories for the locally manufactured products.
The export volume of plastic products was US$72.03 million in the last eight months from July 2020 to February 2021. The figure was US$75.42 million during the same period of the last financial year, according to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
Plastic products worth $68.76 million were exported against a target of $53.72 million in 2010-11 fiscal year while the figure grew to $88.69 million the following fiscal year of 2011-12.
During the 2012-13 fiscal year, the export earnings from the plastic sector declined to $84.51 million. The figure slightly increased in 2013-14 FY with $85 million export earnings.
In the fiscal year of 2014-15, Bangladeshi companies saw a significant growth in the exports fetching $100.57 million.
However, the figure went down following fiscal year with $89 million export earnings in 2015-16.
In the fiscal year of 2016-17, the sector earned $116.95 million, 25.08 per cent more than the target of $93.5 million. The plastic product manufacturers saw a 66.54 per cent decline in the export target of $148 million in 2017-18 financial year.
The 2018-19 fiscal year brought a growth trend for the plastic manufacturers in Bangladesh with export earnings of $119.8 million.
However, the market players saw a moderated growth in 2019-20 financial year earning $100.52 million as the coronavirus pandemic hit the industry.