Environment experts worried by trading of hazardous plastic waste
Environment experts have called on the government to protect the country from the hazards of mounting plastic waste on an urgent basis and take measures to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment and incorporate it into national law.
The experts were speaking at the launch of a study report by the Environment and Social Development Organization (Esdo) at Four Seasons Restaurant in Dhaka on Thursday.
The report revealed that around 1.2 million tons of plastic waste had been shipped into Bangladesh in three years.
Speakers at the program expressed their concern over the trading in hazardous plastic waste, which had caused serious damage to the environment as well as public health. One of the guiding principles of the Basel Convention is to minimize the threat.
Former secretary in the Bangladesh government and Esdo Chairman Syed Marghub Morshed urged the authorities concerned to consider the severity of the plastic waste trade issue as it was hampering the ecosystem of the Bay of Bengal and sustainable development of Bangladesh.
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Sirine Rached, global policy advocate for the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), pointed out the flaws in plastic waste trade laws in Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, Dr Shahriar Hossain, secretary general of the Esdo, said Bangladesh was a signatory to the Basel Convention but it did not sign the Basel Ban Amendment that particularly dealt with wastes and hazardous waste management.
"It is high time to adopt the guideline to tackle the toxic situation," he said.
Esdo Executive Director Siddika Sultana asked the government to enforce a legal framework combining the Basel Ban Amendment and the Bangladesh Import Policy Order (2015-2018).
The Esdo study highlighted the fact that the 2011 rule regarding shipbreaking and waste management stipulates that illegal trafficking is a criminal offence. According to the rule, if any waste seems to be illegal, it will be returned to the country of origin within 30 days.
Mentioning that there was no restriction in transit of wastes, Esdo urged the government to impose a legal bar on it.
To guide journalists in playing a leading role in protecting the environment through regular awareness and anti-corruption reporting, a session on environmental journalism was held as well during the daylong event.