How to implement the “3Rs” in the fight against plastic pollution

The circular plastic economy can generate economic gains that are both environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive, says Minister of the Environment

The World Bank has suggested a comprehensive three-phase plan to tackle the growing problem of plastic waste in Bangladesh.

The National Action Plan for the Sustainable Management of Plastics (PAN), which is aligned with the country’s 8th five-year plan, was based on the needs identified collectively by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, the Ministry of the Environment, the private sector, and other stakeholders.

The plan was disclosed in a World Bank report titled “Towards a Multi-Sector Action Plan for Sustainable Plastic Management in Bangladesh, Unveiled Yesterday. The plan is divided into short (2022-2023), medium (2024-2026) and long-term (2027-2030) phases, all of which focus and develop the 3R method (reduce, reuse, recycle).

According to the report, Bangladesh produces an average of 9 kg of plastic waste per capita in urban areas. Dhaka alone produces 24 kg of plastic waste per capita, three times more than in 2005.

The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened plastic pollution as much of the single-use plastic used in masks, gloves and personal protective equipment (PPE) was dumped into water bodies and rivers, he added.

The short term will focus on drafting guidelines on plastic packaging, anti-waste regulations and formulating an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) pilot project, including industry co-funding on collection plastic waste.

Read also – Ban on single-use plastic: the DoE is moving steadily forward

In the medium term, the government has been advised to offer tax breaks and grants for research and development initiatives on alternatives to plastics, as well as additional fees for plastic products that have viable alternatives.

The World Bank has also stressed the importance of recognizing producers who adopt environmentally friendly business practices by providing them with environmental certification and labeling plastic products to clearly indicate the differences in quality, longevity and methods of production. appropriate disposal.

According to a High Court directive, the DoE was supposed to implement a ban on single-use plastics from 2021. As the ban has yet to be implemented, the World Bank has suggested full implementation of the ban. the ban on single-use plastics by 2026.

The long-term phase includes an ambitious goal of making all packaging materials reusable, recyclable or compostable. In addition, he calls for the introduction of 3Rs into the national program, as well as a refund system for customers who return plastics.

The PAN sets a target of recycling 50% of plastics by 2025, reducing targeted single-use plastics by 90% by 2026 and reducing plastic waste production by 30% by 2030 compared to to the 2020-2021 reference.

Read also – The export of plastic products increases by 30%

Addressing the launch event, World Bank Acting Country Director for Bangladesh Dandan Chen said, “With rapid growth and urbanization, Bangladesh has been facing a sharp increase in use of plastic and pollution. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem of poorly managed plastic waste.

“Going forward, the sustainable management of plastic, from product design to reducing plastic use to recycling, will be key to ensuring green growth for the country. We welcome the government’s commitment to implement a national action plan to combat plastic pollution, “he added.

Speaking as the guest of honor, the Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Md Shahab Uddin, said: “By strengthening the 3R approach, a circular plastic economy can contribute to the promoting a green growth path in Bangladesh, delivering economic gains that are both environmentally sustainable. , and socially inclusive.

Bangladesh was the first country in the world to ban plastic shopping bags, but the ban was never effectively enforced. The jute packaging law of 2010 for six essential items (paddy, rice, wheat, maize, fertilizer, sugar) promoted an alternative to plastic packaging, but encountered problems: the contents of jute packaging can spoil when the packaging begins to deteriorate.

In 2020, the High Court ordered relevant authorities to ban single-use plastics in coastal areas, hotels and motels across the country.

Bryce K. Locke