Following the model of circular economy can be an effective tool for the country in achieving sustainable growth, especially after the LDC graduation, policymakers and business leaders said on Sunday.
“Preparing a proper action plan to replicate circular economic model in Bangladesh is essential to maintain the ongoing pace of sustainable economic development after LDC graduation,” Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mamud Humayun said.
“As a one of the most densely populated country of the world, circular economy has an immense importance for Bangladesh as proper waste management has been a major challenge for the country with its increased pace of urbanistion,”Humanyun said.
Biodiversity in the country is at stake because of air, water and soil pollution caused by industrial, medical and animal waste, he observed. Circular economic model combines production and consumption. The best use of resources can be ensured through waste management and recycling, which reduce carbon emissions, pollution.
Hmayun said a separate cell would be set up in the Industries Ministry to work on the circular economy, which would work closely with government and non-government departments and organisations.
He said recycling plays a pivotal role for the development of the circular economy.
The minister mentioned that the size of the informal recycling is huge and giving them the status of industry would further facilitate the shift to a circular economy.
Md Shahab Uddin said that at present 40 per cent plastic is being recycled, adding that the remaining 60 percent will have to be brought under it.
He said his ministry has taken initiative to prepare a working paper on plastic management.
FBCCI president said no one in the world now considers waste unnecessary. Waste of one industry is being considered as resources for another industry. Bangladesh aims to achieve SDG by 2030, become an upper middle-income country by 2031 and a developed country by 2041.
“Achieving these goals requires ensuring sustainable use of resources. And that is why the development of a circular economy is very important. The country has opportunities to include construction industry, textile, motor vehicle, logistics, agriculture, furniture, oil and gas, renewable energy sectors in the circular economy,” he said.
The annual per capita plastic consumption in Bangladesh is only 7 to 8 kg. In the United States, the amount is 130 kg. The country is turning plastic waste into a resource through recycling, he added.
Jashim Uddin said that the countries of the European Union are in the forefront in implementing the circular economy. The European Commission has already drawn up a circular economy action plan, he added.
He said China, Brazil, Canada, the United States and Japan are also working to shift their economies to a circular economy. Bangladesh needs to take the same initiative, he added. But for that, he said, the waste has to be segregated first at their source. But there is no dumping zone in Bangladesh where waste can be segregated, he added. Md Jashim Uddin called upon the ministries to work in a coordinated manner.
Presenting the keynote paper, Dr Mohammad Sujauddin, Assistant Professor of North South University presented the keynote at the seminar. He said that at the rate at which different resources are being utilized, many of them would be depleted in a few years.
However, it is possible to prevent this catastrophe if reuse is ensured. The keynote identifies huge potential for a circular economy in Bangladesh.
A large amount of waste is collected and recycled informally in the country and the trend is upward. The formal recognition of this sector, the development of the country's circular economy will be more dynamic, he said.
During the panel discussion, Eun Joo Allison Yi, Senior Environmental Specialist of the World Bank, said that the growth of Bangladesh in the last 10 years is incredible.
“But now is the time to decide whether to move towards eco-friendly growth. Because the depletion of resources will not only jeopardize our health risks or growth, but also put our future at extreme risk,” Yi said.
For sustainable growth, the government needs to invest more in building the capacity and awareness of government agencies, the WB environment specialist said.