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24 February, 2020 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 24 February, 2020 11:44:04 AM
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Plastic wastes no longer a bane but a boon

Experts say that although the potential still remained untapped, Bangladesh has immense scope of developing multi faceted products from man made fibres
PROF. SARWAR MD. SAIFULLAH KHALED
Plastic wastes no longer a bane but a boon

Plastic wastes of late are considered a growing hazard that pollutes the environment in land and sea. But a new hope has been raised with the nascent use of plastic wastes. It has been discovered that new fibre from plastic wastes fires up hopes whereby the bane of plastic wastes becomes boon of late in the form of new man made fibre (MMF). It has been found that MMF comes as a spur to financial prospects. It promises not only to open up an opportunity to turn plastic wastes – a substance dangerous to environment – into assets but also brighten the future of Bangladesh apparel business. Based on running their startups already, a few trailblazers in this business of turning trash into treasures exuded such hopes. The world apparel consumers have become very much conscious about green world and opted for less-nature-damaging items. In consequence, the demand for MMF made apparel has been on the rise.  

The share of MMF based apparel, according to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), is around 45 percent of global trade. And this is growing at a 5.0 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR). The global trade in MMF based products now stands at 200 billion US dollar. The share of Bangladesh is only a peanut 5.0 percent while its competitor Vietnam shares more than 10 percent.  For the sustainability of the apparel industry, Bangladesh will have to grab more market share in the global garment business. Sources in the business circles maintain that although the pace is still slow, the local garment manufacturers are also going for MMF.  

Compared to its two competitors – China and Vietnam – the country still goes banking on cotton-based products. As a result the apparel product basket of Bangladesh is narrow. Experts say that although the potential still remained untapped, Bangladesh has immense scope of developing multi faceted products from man made fibres. They say the setting up of MMF based spinning mills is little expensive. But investors should accept it, considering the greener world and the demand of the world market. Some of such manufacturers are top-notch upbeat about the prospect. They, however, said that cotton-made fibre prices do fluctuate based on petroleum price.

As we do not produce cotton but we are heavily dependent on it. But we can expand our market horizons by starting to produce MMF.  

Regarding its technology, it is not at all an issue because technology is a commercial product. So, if Bangladesh can bring out the right product, technology, and raw materials, is not an issue. The Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) said that, on average, Bangladesh imported 78,000 tonnes of polyester staple fibre, 29,000 tonnes of viscose staple fibre and 5 thousand tonnes of Tencel fibre. If local spinning mills started production of MMF by using locally available plastic products, especially plastic bottles, the import of such substances could be reduced to half. There are dependable data about the locally available plastic wastes. It has been sensed that several thousand tonnes of plastic wastes could be obtained from the local source. One firms all ready shows the way to new ventures with the innovation.

The global demand for MMF based apparel products is on the rise. In tune with it the Debonair Group has undertaken a project to turn discarded plastics into yarns and fibers. The venture is for manufacturing jacket, padding and quilts. In what is otherwise seen as hazard, the investor circles also find a business bonanza in it. Foreign investors too have become keen to invest in the plastic recycling sector due to rise in the demand for MMF based apparel products. The administration, they think, should give especial emphasis on bringing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the plastic recycling sector. That would go a long way in developing plastic recycling industry in the country to meet the demand for MMF based apparel products for local and foreign markets.

This will help us reducing or eliminating the demand for cotton made fibres that we presently import to meet the demand for the country’s apparel sector. This will save a substantial amount of foreign exchange expenditure for the country.

In fiscal 2018-2019, Bangladesh imported 6.9 million bales of cotton from the world to meet its demand. The country annually spends 3.5 billion US dollar in importing cotton. Since the RMG sector of the country is a major foreign exchange earning source and the country is not a cotton producing one we have to rely on cotton import. The MMF based apparel products may turn a boon for the country’s export sector and help us come out from much necessary dependence on cotton imports in the near future.      

The writer is a retired Professor of Economics and Vice Principal at Cumilla Women’s Government College, Cumilla.

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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