In Bangladesh, people dump 290 tonnes of plastic bottles every day.
Most of it is improperly disposed, ultimately resulting in water and land pollution.
Pioneering the concept of creating worth out of waste in Bangladesh, Bangladesh Petrochemical Company Limited (BPCL), is the country’s first and only company so far, to start a post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle recycling plant. BPCL plans to eventually recycle all of this plastic waste and turn it into usable raw material.
Its operations are solely built on the ‘recover and recycle’ business model in which waste, previously considered useless, is being revived for new use.
Starting July 2012, BPCL set up a plant capable of producing 10,500 metric tons of recycled PET resin per year from discarded PET bottles.
The company recently came up with a plan to start collecting plastic waste on a weekly basis from people’s homes.
The aim of this project is to create awareness about the value of used PET bottles and to discourage people from throwing away plastic.
Currently in the middle of figuring out logistics, BPCL is confident they will be able to put their plan into action soon after Eid.
“With this project, our aim is to create awareness about the plastic pollution and to encourage people to recycle their used PET bottles,” said Khadem Mahmud Yusuf, managing director of BPCL.
Capitalizing on the abundance of waste in the country, BPCL decided to start their own PET recycling factory and supplying local bottle manufacturers with the necessary raw materials.
However, they can only meet a small fraction of the massive demand.
Currently, Bangladesh spends $225 million a year on the import of more than 140,000 tons of PET resin. BPCL supplies only about 10,500 tons, saving Bangladesh $10 million in imports.
Beverage producers, yarn manufacturers, and food packaging companies buying resin from BPCL are also saving at least three months of lead time needed to import resin. Recycled PET resin is also 20% cheaper than imported resin.
Their clients include giants such as AST Beverage, Meghna Group of Industries, and Olympic Industries Limited.
A booming industry
Following China’s import ban on plastics and recycled polyethylene terephthalate (RPET) waste since January this year, Bangladesh’s PET flakes manufacturing industry was left in turmoil. Almost 35,000 to 40,000 metric tonnes of the country’s stock lay unsold in waste collection shops.
Previously, in 2017 alone, Bangladesh exported 60,000 metric tons of PET flakes to China which was 98% of total flake exports for the year.
BPCL’s entry into the PET recycling market at this time will benefit the country, as the company will purchase an additional 10,000 metric tonnes of untouched PET bottle stock from the market.
The company will benefit as well, since the price of PET bale has gone down, allowing them to lower their production costs. They are planning to increase their production to 20,000 metric tonnes, collecting bottles firstly from Dhaka and other major cities, and later, from all over the country.
BPCL also has the opportunity to import huge quantities of PET bottles or flakes available worldwide due to Chinese import bans.
Potential for growth in the sector has enabled the company to secure equity and debt financing from prominent foreign and local investors, including DEFTA Partners (USA), NFM Energy Singapore Pte Ltd, Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), and Trust Bank Ltd.
BPCL’s social goals
One major goal of BPCL is to reduce municipal solid waste. BPCL’s service is currently saving 93,000 cubic metres of landfill space and preventing 15,000 PET bottles from getting dumped annually.
BPCL’s corporate social responsibility efforts are intended to demonstrate that it is possible to operate a private recycling program that is profitable, and to generate social, economic, and environmental benefits as well. They plan to achieve this by closely working with waste scavengers and the waste industry, using non-profit initiatives.
Based on this plan, the company’s collection points all over the country enable waste pickers to double their usual income by eliminating middlemen and bhangari shops.
Elimination of child labor from the supply chain is also among the top goals of the company, although they have not started working on that yet.