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5 March, 2021 04:52:31 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 5 March, 2021 04:59:57 PM
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Reckless use of banned polythene poses a serious threat to the environment

The use of polythene was banned in 2002 in Bangladesh but environmentalists say that there is no strict enforcement of the law to stop using polythene, and that is why polythene is still being used
Majhar Mannan
Reckless use of banned polythene poses a serious threat to the environment

The use of polythene was banned 19 years ago to keep the environment healthy and beautiful but the production of polythene has not stopped yet. Mobile court is conducted in the market to stop the indiscriminate use of polythene but this does not completely eliminate the use of polythene. We all know how horrible polythene is for the environment, yet the unwise use of polythene makes us highly anxious. It was decided to use perishable gold bags made of jute as an alternative to polythene but it has not yet come to the market commercially. A pilot project was taken up for the commercial production of this eco-friendly bag and the duration of project has expired but the production of the bag has not started largely and commercially yet. Limited production of this bag has been possible only and in this case the project time has been extended by one more year. In the absence of this reliable and eco-friendly golden bag, the market is now littered with banned polythene. Imprudent use of polythene is being noticed everywhere including raw market grocery stores, shopping malls and chain shops. The use of polythene was banned in 2002 in Bangladesh but environmentalists say that there is no strict enforcement of the law to stop using polythene, and that is why polythene is still being used. Millions of tons of polybags are being used every day and causing serious pollution to environment as waste. The perishable golden bag made of jute was thought to be a reliable alternative to harmful polythene and was invented in 2016. Before coming to the market commercially, golden jute bag had a huge response at home and abroad. A pilot project was undertaken in 2018 to market the bag, but it was not possible to bring the bag to market commercially for five years.

On April 7, 2019, the Bangladesh Climate Trust Fund allocated taka 10 crore for the production of this jute bags. With that money the necessary equipment and chemicals have been purchased and now 1000 bags are being produced every day which cannot meet the demand of the market. However, those associated with the jute mill say that it is possible to bring such bags to the market on a large scale if huge money is invested. From July 2015 to December 2020, 2871 operations were conducted against polythene. 1236 Polythene was confiscated from the market and a fine of taka 20.60 crore has been recovered. 104 people have been convicted in the case. One person in the country produces 13 kg of plastic waste per year. Bangladesh ranks tenth in the world in the production of plastic and polythene waste.

5 lakh crore polythene bags are used in the world every year, 1% of which is recycled and 10% goes to sea. Traders say that polythene causes a lot of damage to the environment so they do not want to use it but there are no alternative bags in the market available like polythene. When polythene was banned in the country in 2002, the use of paper bag as an alternative increased slightly. But due to the excessive use of polythene, it could not last. Like all over the world, Bangladesh is very worried and concerned about polythene pollution. One of the major causes of water-logging and canal filling in Dhaka is the widespread use of polythene. There is no precise data on how much polythene is produced and used in Bangladesh every day and there is no specific information about the amount of polythene that is deposited in the drain and canal as waste.

According to a survey, due to lack of proper management, about 800,000 tons of polythene waste is accrued in Bangladesh every year. A person in Bangladesh generates 430 grams of waste every day and of this, about 35 grams is plastic waste.

Polythene bags do not rot and do not mix with the soil so it is a serious threat to the environment. There is a great lack of awareness among the people about the use of polythene. Environmentalists believe that it is possible to ban polythene bags from the market by ensuring regular monitoring and enforcement of the law and at the same time to bring alternative bags in market. The general public should be made aware of the harmful aspects of polythene. The number of polythene factories in the country is increasing day by day. Now it has to be controlled and the factories have to be closed down. Otherwise environmental pollution could take on more horrific form.

BJMC officials say that the use of polythene will come down if jute bag can be marketed commercially by investing large sums of money. Polythene has become an integral part of our daily lives but many of us are unaware of its dire consequences. This silent killer polythene has become a huge threat to our existence and the existence of the environment.

There is a global movement against the use of polythene and some have banned polythene. The use of polythene was also banned in our country but due to lack of proper supervision and strict enforcement of the law, the sale and production of polythene could not be stopped. Ordinary people are very ignorant about the harmful aspects of polythene that is why the dominance of polythene in the commodity market is now at its peak. There is no visible initiative to create massive public awareness, so the use of polythene has exceeded the limit and causes fatal diseases. According to a survey, about 20 million polybags are used every day in Dhaka. Due to the multiple use of polythene, it is causing serious disorders including cancer. Experts say that the use of polythene and plastics disrupts hormones and can lead to liver and kidney failure. The researchers said that when hot water is poured into plastic or polythene, it creates a chemical reaction that disrupts thyroid hormone. There is an equal risk of damage from frozen items wrapped in polythene. Plastic enters our body with food and damages the liver and kidneys. Retailers say that jute bags are not available in the market and the price of cloth bags is higher. Polythene bags are cheaper and easy to bear. So, common people use it unwisely. Polythene is being used recklessly in restaurants and hotels. Food Safety Authority can take care of these. There is no accurate data on the number of polybag factories in the country.  Statistics from the Department of the Environment show that in 1993, 4.5 million polybags were used every day across the country and its use increased in 2000 and it was 9.3 million. And now its use has increased further and a preliminary survey shows that 11.75 million bags polythene are used in the country every day.

The use of polythene should be strictly stopped and the use of paper, jute and burlap bags instead of polythene bags must be increased and they decompose easily and mix with the soil. Such bags are again helpful in increasing soil fertility. Polythene in the water creates an oxygen crisis that poses a serious threat to the survival of fish and aquatic life. Rivers, canals and ponds around Dhaka are covered with layers of polythene, which has damaged the navigability of the river and threatened the survival of aquatic life. Polythene bags accumulate in about eighty percent drains of Dhaka city and water cannot pass easily and waterlogging occurs in Dhaka city due to low rainfall. When the waste was removed from the bottom of the Buriganga, it was found that most of the waste was polythene. Accumulation of polythene on agricultural land impairs soil quality and fertility resulting in low production of crops. About 80%.people use polybags but they do not know the harmful aspects of it. So the production and frequent use of polythene must be stopped as soon as possible. Otherwise we will have to give huge price. 

The writer is Assistant Professor, B A F Shaheen College Kurmitola, Dhaka Cantonment.
 

 

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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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