In almost 20 years, there have been few successful attempts to raise awareness about plastic use, or research functional alternatives that would be sustainable at a large scale
Bangladesh is often cited as the first country in the world to ban plastic and polythene bags. However, even though this amendment to the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995 was made back in 2002, the ban is yet to be implemented in any measure.
This lack of impact this amendment has had is obvious in the rampant and reckless use of plastic bags in shops, packaging, and elsewhere, despite the ban extending from manufacturing to sale and all kinds of commercial carriage and use. When asked about this, Dr Abdullah Al Mamun, deputy director the DOE, said that there were other factors to consider, unemployment, the effect on the economy, and alternatives, before implementing the permanent ban -- thus the delay.
While this might have been a considerable setback when the ban was first passed, the fact of the matter is that it has been 18 years since then. If a ban on plastic takes nearly two decades to implement and is still unsuccessful, what can we expect of other environmental conservation efforts that are more time-sensitive? ESDO Secretary General Shahriar Hossain posed a similar question, adding that the authorities were only too willing to forgive and overlook the matter.
There is no doubt that the effects of the ban must be deliberated, and that it must be enforced in a way that does not adversely affect people’s livelihoods. But even in that regard, very little has been done. In almost 20 years, there have been few successful attempts to raise awareness about plastic use, or research functional alternatives that would be sustainable at a large scale. The least that could be done in the way of adaptive measures is a proper disposal method, but polybags in sewers and drains are still resulting in 80% of Dhaka’s waterlogging problem.
It is high time the concerned authorities took a good, long look back at the failures that have piled up in regards to the ban, and found a sustainable way to facilitate it.