To mark World Environment Day 2023, a joint seminar was organised by the Department of Environment (DoE), Unilever Bangladesh Ltd. (UBL), World Bank, UNIDO and Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BPGMEA), titled ‘Adopting Circular Economy for Sustainable Plastic Management in Bangladesh’, recently, at the DoE Auditorium, Agargaon, Dhaka. The seminar focused on sustainable plastic waste management, which was also the focus of this year’s World Environment Day.
The seminar was organised to consult with stakeholders, including the private sector companies and international development organisations to exchange knowledge and discuss way-forward to reduce the impact plastic waste has on the environment. The seminar featured expert keynote presentations on Plastic Circularity, Plastic Waste Management Policy and Marine Littering.
In the first panel on ‘Circularity as the Solution to Plastic Pollution’, M Masrur Reaz, Chairman and Founder, Policy Exchange Bangladesh, gave the keynote speech. Uzma Chowdhury, Director, PRAN-RFL Group, Shamim Ahmed, President, BPGMEA, Arif M. Faisal, Programme Specialist (Nature, Climate & Energy), UNDP Bangladesh, and Shamima Akhter, Director, Corporate Affairs, Partnerships and Communications, UBL, spoke as panellists.
In his discussion, Shamim Ahmed, President, BPGMEA, said, “Plastic is essential as a lightweight and cost-effective material so it is an important raw material for manufacturers to keep product prices affordable. Plastic is not the problem, waste management is the challenge. Therefore, an inclusive policy which enables and encourages the plastic circularity would benefit the industry.”
In the second panel on ‘Enabling Policy to Tackle Plastic Pollution’, Kartik Kapoor, Member WGGLI, ISWA, Independent Consultant for waste management, Waste expert GIZ India, gave the keynote speech. Rashedul Quayum, Legal Director & Company Secretary at UBL, Shamim Ahmed, President, BPGMEA, Dr. Rene Van Berkel, UNIDO Representative and Head of Regional Office in India, UNIDO, and Heedong Kwon, Head of Net-Zero Business Dept, SUDOKWON Landfill Site Management Corp., Republic of Korea spoke, as panellists. Bushra Nishat, Environment Specialist, The World Bank, chaired this panel.
The panellists discussed global best practices on plastic circularity, which focus on collecting and recycling the thrown-away plastic waste so that the environment is unharmed and highlighted the critical role that the private sector can play to holistically improve the ecosystem. They agreed that the smartest way to keep plastic in a loop that does not impact the planet is to ensure the collection and recycling of plastic waste. The panellists also discussed the importance of relevant and practical policy approaches from the Government like facilitating the recycling industry and regulating non-recyclable plastic use to improve the situation.
In his remarks, special guest Md. Jashim Uddin, President, The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), said, ‘’The plastic industry is growing exponentially growing in Bangladesh. Compared to global average of around 9%, almost 40% of the plastic is recycled in Bangladesh.
The informal sector is key player in this contribution, and the situation could be improved significantly if we all come forward and invest smartly to provide better value for waste. Hence, we need cross sectoral collaboration, learn from best practices and have an enabling policy that will formalise the informal sector, and support and grow the plastic waste management ecosystem.”
During his remarks, the Chief Guest of the Event, Mr Md Shahab Uddin, Honorable Minister, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said "At the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bangladesh Governmnet has taken measures to protect our environment through progressive policies and regulations. This year the theme of World Environment Day is Solution to Plastic Pollution, and today's seminar has reflected on different aspects of the issue.
You all are aware that we have developed the solid waste management rule 2021, which is a holistic document to manage all sorts of waste. Alongside, we have included circularity into our 8th 5-year plan, which will help to improve waste management and support the green industry holistically. We are collaborating with wide stakeholders to ensure that our work is inclusive and adds to the country's economic growth while protecting our environment for the next generation. I am hopeful that our work will help Bangladesh achieve its vision and become a role model for other countries."
Dr. Abdul Hamid Director General Department of Environment chaired the seminar. Sanjay Kumar Bhowmik, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Dr. Zaki Uz Zaman, UNIDO Country Representative Bangladesh Country Office, Dr. Rene Van Berkel, UNIDO Representative and Head of Regional Office in India, and Sanjay Kumar Bhowmik, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, spoke as special guests.