Sustainable management of plastic will be crucial for Bangladesh to tackle the increasing plastic pollution and ensure green growth, according to a World Bank Report.
The ‘Towards a Multisectoral Action Plan for Sustainable Plastic Management in Bangladesh’ report provides a blueprint for managing plastic pollution over the short term (2022–2023), medium-term (2024–2026), and long-term (2027–2030), which will require an integrated cross-sectoral approach. The National Action Plan for Sustainable Plastic Management focuses on circular use of plastic based on a 3R strategy: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. A circular economy will help create new value chains, green skills, employment, and innovative products while addressing social and environmental challenges.
“With rapid growth and urbanisation, Bangladesh faced a sharp increase in both plastic use and pollution. The COVID-19 pandemic has escalated the problem of mismanaged plastic waste,” said Dandan Chen, World Bank Acting Country Director for Bangladesh.
“Going forward, sustainable plastic management—from designing a product, to minimising plastic use, to recycling—will be critical to ensure green growth for the country. We commend the government’s commitment to implement a National Action Plan to beat plastic pollution.”
The country’s annual per capita plastic consumption in urban areas tripled to 9.0 kg in 2020 from 3.0 kg in 2005. Dhaka’s annual per capita consumption of plastic is 22.5 kg, significantly higher than the national average. COVID 19 pandemic has worsened plastic pollution, especially from single-use plastic used in masks, gloves, and personal protective equipment. A large part of the plastic waste is dumped in water bodies and rivers.
The National Action Plan for Sustainable Plastic Management sets a target of recycling 50 per cent of plastics by 2025, phasing out targeted single-use plastic by 90 per cent by 2026, and reducing plastic waste generation by 30 per cent by 2030 from 2020/21 baseline.
The plan, which is aligned with the 8th Five-year plan, was based on needs collectively identified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change, Department of Environment, private sector, and other stakeholders.
Bangladesh progressively took steps in curbing plastic pollution, with varied outcomes: in 2002, Bangladesh was the world’s first country to ban plastic shopping bags. However, after some time, plastic pollution increased again. The Jute Packaging Act 2010 for six essential items (paddy, rice, wheat, maize, fertilizer, sugar) promoted an alternative to plastic packaging. In 2020, a High Court directed concerned authorities to ban single-use plastic in coastal areas and all hotels and motels across the country.
“To implement the National Action Plan focusing on 3R strategy, commitment from all stakeholders, including citizens, the government, private sector, development partners, and citizens will be important,” said Eun Joo Allison Yi, World Bank Senior Environment Specialist, and co-author of the report.
To implement the action plan, the report identifies policy reforms, technologies, infrastructures, investment, and institutional capacity-building needs. The report was prepared in collaboration with the Department of Environment and PROBLUE, a multi-donor trust fund.