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2.6m tonnes of plastic fall into Bay of Bengal a year

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 21 November, 2022 12:00 AM
  • Print news

The Bay of Bengal receives 2.6 million tonnes of single-use plastic a year through 18 transboundary rivers in Bangladesh, posing a serious threat to river systems, waterways and human health, according to a report by the Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO).

ESDO presented the report on Sunday at a conference titled "Assessing Transboundary Movement of Single-use Plastic Waste Through River Channels in Bangladesh and Dialogue on The Upcoming Global Plastic Treaty" at a city hotel.

According to the ESDO study, nearly half a million tonnes of single-use plastic waste enter the Bay of Bengal every year from India and Myanmar. Of the total volume, 4,03,327 tonnes come from India and 66,112 tonnes come from Myanmar each year.

The study was conducted by ESDO in collaboration with the Plastic Solutions Fund and the Global Alliance of Incineration Alternatives (GAIA) to increase regional collaboration for reducing the transboundary movement of hazardous plastic waste.

Each day, 18 transboundary rivers in Bangladesh carry approximately 15,345 tonnes of single-use plastic waste. Of them, 2802 tonnes originate from India and Myanmar while 2,519 tonnes come from India and 284 tonnes from Myanmar.

"Plastic pollution in our aquatic systems, especially through transboundary movement, was the focus of the study," said the study team leader, Dr Shahriar Hossain, who is also the secretary general of ESDO.

The study aims to assist in making decisions related to riverine ecosystem conservation in Bangladesh, he said.

From December 2020 to July 2022, baseline surveys were conducted on a total of 7020 people from different social groups, such as students, boatmen, fishermen, shopkeepers, etc.

Around 11,700 samples of single-use plastic waste were collected from transboundary streams and surrounding bank areas. A set of structured questionnaires was formed to ensure getting all relevant data from the targeted segment.

For this study, several transboundary rivers were assessed, namely Mahananda, Dahuk, Karatoya, Tista, Dharla, Dudhkumar, Brahmaputra, Surma, Kushiyara and Ganges in midstream, and Ichamati-Kalindi and Naf in downstream.

There were two segments to the event. The first segment was to launch the report while the second segment was to have an in-depth discussion about the upcoming Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for the global plastic treaty.