Published in The Financial Express on Friday, 22 January 2016
Holistic approach seen vital for sustainable waste management
Discussants at a seminar called on Thursday for a combined effort with advanced technology to develop sustainable waste management system in the capital as many developed countries have done.
They said the government should pay serious attention to well-developed legal framework, institutional structure and industrial base for recycling in order to tackle solid wastes generated in the municipal areas rather than showing negative attitudes towards plastic materials.
To attain the goal of a scientific waste management system, they suggested for a holistic approach involving government, business, NGOs and communities to reap out maximum financial and environmental benefits of the rubbish by converting those into resources.
Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA) organised the seminar on ‘Problems and Prospects of Plastic Waste Recycling in Bangladesh’ at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) on the sidelines of a four-day International Plastic Summit 2016.
BPGMEA President Md Jashim Uddin moderated the event where Environment and Forests Minister Anwar Hossain Manju was present as the chief guest while mayors of DNCC (Dhaka North City Corporation) and DSCC (Dhaka South City Corporation) were special guests.
Speaking as the chief guest, Anwar Hossain Manju called upon the private entrepreneurs to come up for collection of waste before converting the same into resources.
In a PowerPoint presentation, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Waste Concern Md Maqsood Sinha said both parts of Dhaka City Corporation generate 4,200 tonnes of wastes a day, of which 70 per cent have high organic matters and high moisture content accounts for the rest.
With rise in income, annual per capita plastic consumption has increased gradually to 14.99 kilograms in 2015 from 5.56 kilograms a decade ago in urban Bangladesh. In Dhaka the figure was 17.24 kgs in 2015 from 9.2 kg recorded in 2005, he said.
Giving a picture of possible business prospects the country can get from the debris, another co-founder of Waste Concern Iftekhar Enayetullah said the capital city generates 381.36 tonnes of plastic waste a day, only 9.08 per cent of the daily waste generation.
He said only 38 per cent (143.23 tonnes) of the plastic waste is recycled and the remaining soiled plastic waste is dumped in the landfill.
“If we have washing and drying facility at the dumping stations, we can make plastic pellets from 59 per cent of the waste and the rest can be converted into RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel) that can be used as alternative to coal in the brick kilns,” he said.
He said recycled resin met up 28 per cent of the total raw materials in FY’15 which is equivalent to US$ 455 million. “If we can manage to improve the recycling contribution by 50 per cent, we will be able to save US$ 801 million.”
Additional Research Director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem said Bangladesh lags far behind in waste management compared to many developing and developed countries.
DSCC Mayor Mohammad Sayeed Khokon said the city has three major problems – traffic congestion, water-logging and waste management. “Water-logging takes place here in moderate rain because of the plastic waste in the drainage system,” he said.
DNCC Mayor Annisul Huq said the private sector should come up with their plans and investment to convert the waste into valuable assets.
“It (waste) has got a value…it creates jobs and industry but we cannot explore it properly…there is a business proposition for the investors,” he said.
Bangladesh makes plastic products through some 5,000 small and medium industries where nearly 0.1 million people directly work. The sector earned US$ 100 million in FY ’15 and now ranks 12th on the list of export earning sectors.