• Friday, Jan 27, 2023
  • Last Update : 08:54 am

ED: Ditching plastic has never been more urgent

  • Published at 08:50 pm February 6th, 2021
plastic waste

Bans will do no good if they are not enforced across the board, and if satisfactory alternatives are not presented

There are many staunch defenders of plastic, and this is hardly a surprise. Plastic is inexpensive, convenient, and it has changed the world in the past century. But the undeniable reality is that plastic pollution has taken a devastating toll on the environment and on our planet. Bangladesh, a country of great natural beauty, is now awash with plastic pollution. This pollution is no mere eyesore, but a downright public health emergency. If we wish to develop as a nation, and improve the liveability of our cities, we simply must address this issue without delay.

The figures are alarming: Back in 1950, global plastic production was a mere 1.5 million tons. Today, that figure stands at a jaw-dropping 359 million tons a year. Much noise gets made about the efficacy of recycling, but the fact is, a mere 9% of plastic waste in the world gets recycled. The rest of it gets either incinerated, or ends up in dumps, landfills, or simply gets absorbed into the natural environment, with terrible environmental ramifications.

Although this is a global problem, it goes without saying that in this regard, Bangladesh is way behind. Our waste management system has a long way to go, and recycling is practically non-existent. The vast amount of plastic waste generated and disposed of improperly is visible to any casual observer. Our drainage system is frequently clogged with plastic, for example, exacerbating the flooding problem.

Then there are the problems that cannot be seen with the naked eye -- microplastics are ending up in the air we breathe and the food we eat. The long-term health impact of all these things remains to be seen.

Bans will do no good if they are not enforced across the board, and if satisfactory alternatives are not presented. Back in 2002, Bangladesh had banned single-use plastic and polythene bags, but nearly two decades later, we can see that success was limited. We simply must do more, by innovating, investing in alternatives, and by being uncompromising with our laws designed the protect the environment we live in.

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