Little done to stop polythene bag use despite ban

June 23, 2011

Continuing manufacture of polythene bags along with lax law enforcement is blamed by environmentalists for the increased use of non-biodegradable polythene bags.
Save the Environment Movement president Abu Naser Khan blamed the government authorities for failing to implement the ban on the bags saying that their enforcement operations were very irregular.
The environment department’s director (Dhaka division) Sukumar Biswas, however, told New Age that his department regularly organised enforcement action against the use of polythene bags but said that it has little effect as people were not sufficiently aware of the bad effect of polythene on the environment.
Sukumar referring to an official document said that between January 2010 and May 10, 2011, his department had seized 63,740 kilograms of polythene bags from 492 factories and sellers, filed 475 cases under the Environment Conservation Act 1995 and realised Tk 3,658,900 in fines.
Referring to that document, he also said that in the year up to May 10, the mobile court had imprisoned about 17 people for terms not exceeding six months.
Sukumar blamed the associations related to the manufacturing of polythene bags for their support of the polythene bag factory owners.
‘When we lead enforcement actions against banned polythene bags in the markets of the capital city, some people belonging to the associations try to hinder our operations,’ he said.
Abu Motaleb, president of the Bangladesh Plastic Packaging Roll Manufacturers and Owners’ Association, admitted to New Age that some factories of his association still produce polythene bags and sell them as they do not agree with the present law.
He termed the Environment Conservation Act 1995 ‘a black law’ saying that it destroyed a very profitable business.
He said that the government did not think about the businessman when deciding on banning the production and selling of polythene shopping bags.
He claimed that polythene bags do not harm the environment. ‘People collect the polythene bags and sell them back to the factories for Tk 30 a kilogram. Then the factories recycle them and make different plastic products from them.’
He said that before the plastic bag ban, there were about 150 factories and shops producing and selling polythene bags in the country but the number has now reduced to 30 to 40.
These factories mainly produce polythene bags with a thickness of less than 30 microns which the Environment Conservation Act 1995 had banned in 2002.
He said that the association does not agree with the law adding that ‘As the DoE could not promote any other cost-effective alternatives, the businessman have been forced to produce polythene shopping bags and provide them to the consumers at an affordable price.’
Environmentalists, however, remain concerned about the environmental consequences of plastic bags saying that the use of polythene remained very visible in the environment with bags found everywhere such as on streets, dumps, drains, ditches, open fields, roof tops, hanging from trees and from overhead cables, and floating on ponds, canals and rivers.
Hossain Shahriar, secretary general of the Environment and Social Development Organisation, said that the decomposition process is very slow and that polythene bags break into tiny pieces and leech toxic chemicals into the soil, lakes and rivers.
‘We do not have enough land to dump those polythene bags. We cannot recycle them more than twice. After recycling them, we have to dump them’, he said.
‘Apart from polythene necessary for packing foods, all other polythene and plastic products should be banned by the law,’ he added.
The Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association president, Shamim Ahmed, told New Age that there remained about 400 factories in the country making polythene bags for export, not for local use.


Courtesy of New Age

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