Relevant facts regarding household waste in Bangladesh
Rising income level is leading to higher levels of consumption, in turn increasing the volume of household waste.
Alongside increased volume, the composition of household waste is also changing for the worse, with rising share of plastic and other non biodegradable and toxic components;
Household waste disposal system remains inadequate, spilling over roads and streets, and dumped ultimately into open landfills that are a major source of contamination for neighboring land area and water bodies.
The rising share of plastic and other non-biodegradable waste is making the landfills a source of toxic pollution.
The people need to be educated and made aware about their own responsibility for proper disposal of household waste.
While Bangladesh had a tradition of reuse and recycling long before these were adopted as goals in developed countries, this tradition is now unfortunately weakening and disappearing.
As a result of campaign by BAPA and other pro-environmental forces, the government in 2002 re-imposed the ban on the use of plastic bags (up to a certain thickness), and this step has been helpful in reducing use of plastic bags, which were otherwise not only increasing alarmingly the plastic content of household waste but also clogging the urban drainage system, creating and aggravating the problem of water logging.
Many shops and consumers continue to use plastic bags despite the ban.
Bangladesh in uniquely endowed with jute, which can be used not only to reduce use of plastic bag domestically, but also to enhance export, making use of the current global trend away from synthetic to natural fibers, and thus to revive the jute industry of the country.
There is considerable potential to convert household waste into either fertilizer or energy, and Bangladesh can made use of Kytoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism to seek investment from abroad for such conversion, which can provide a win-win solution to the household waste problem.
Some local initiatives have developed for proper collection and disposal of household waste.
BEN’s recommendations regarding household waste
The government and the people have to take rising volume and worsening composition of household waste as a serious threat to Bangladesh environment.
The people and the government need to realize that due to her extremely high density of population, it is now wise for Bangladesh to slavishly imitate the consumption style of the western countries, who, with their much higher land-man ratio, have enough space to create landfills for dumping of household waste far away from population centers and water bodies.
Bangladesh has to develop her own consumption style, suitable for her land-man ratio, climate, and natural conditions, not focused on private and material consumption only but also emphasizing the public and spiritual aspects of consumption and fulfillment, and preserving as much as possible her own heritage of use of natural fibers and the tradition of reuse and recycling.
The government needs to conduct a massive awareness campaign, through advertisements in radio, newspapers, and television about the responsibility of the public toward proper collection and disposal of household waste, the importance of reuse and recycling, and encourages the local positive initiatives that have developed in this regard.
The government should include in school curriculum the issues concerning household waste, the responsibility that citizens have in this regard, the necessity of adopting appropriate consumption habits, the possibility of converting waste into resource, etc., so that the children grow up with necessary information and values to deal with the rising problem of household waste in future.
The government and local municipalities should take measures towards proper collection, reuse and recycling, and disposal of household waste, including creation of covered landfills with waterproof lining so as to prevent seepage into neighboring land and water bodies and to prevent spillover and spread of bad smell.
The government has to implement more vigorously the ban on use of plastic bags and expands the ban on other types of plastic bags, and that the public cooperated with the government in this effort.
The government should create opportunities for separation of different types of waste and takes steps for conversion of household waste into fertilizer and power, with active participation of the private sector and with help from investment by foreign firms under Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol.
The government has to take particular initiatives to reintroduce jute bags and other products made of jute fiber and jute stalk, thus helping jute growers and jute industry, while at the same time protecting the environment and enhancing the country’s export earnings.
The government should take particular care to protect the country’s water bodies from household waste and makes it a crime to throw litter, particularly plastic and other non-biodegradable waste into water bodies, and that the public cooperates fully with the government in this regard.