As time goes on, the perils of plastic products is becoming a matter of growing concern. There is no disagreement that necessary steps should be taken to stop use of polythene bags and one-time plastic products all over the country, including the coastal region, at the earliest. Authorities concerned need to monitor markets, seal off polythene-making factories and seize machinery used for its production.
Efforts to free the country from polythene and plastic menace, during successive governments, did not show desired results. In consequence, these substances have been continuing to pollute environment. Now, pollution has been so widespread that our land, rivers, forest, ecology and what not, have been polluted to a high degree.
In recent times, plastic and polythene have added to a large extent to detrimental factors responsible for environment pollution. It is doing colossal damage to our health and ecological balance. A ban was previously imposed on use of plastic and polythene bags after a long deliberation on deleterious effects of polythene and plastic.
Moreover, the government made use of jute bags mandatory through an amendment to Jute Packaging Act-2013. Still polythene and plastic bags glut markets in different shapes. As the law is not implemented stringently, polythene and plastic manufacturers are producing and marketing such bags in massive quantity. Even the capital city of Dhaka is no exception.
The danger of polythene and plastic bags lie on the fact that these are non-biodegradable substances and do not get mixed with soil. These bags choke drains, canals and rivers and obstruct normal flow of waters, jeopardising environment. Despite knowledge of such harmful effects, there is no halt in wide-scale manufacturing and use of such bags.
It has been observed that the use of polythene and plastic swelled by 50 times over the last 20 years. The surge in their use is attributed to absence of cheaper and convenient alternative materials to these.
We then ignore the fact that the use of polythene and plastic is suicidal. The country's ecology is at stake due to plastic and polythene use and their resulting wastes. This is due to the fact that the very tiny particles of substance are penetrating every stage of food chain.
Authorities concerned should, therefore, take strict steps to ensure use of eco-friendly bags made of jute, paper and cloth in lieu of polythene and plastic. It is urgent that the authorities need to ban production and sales of polythene and plastic bags of whatever kind and shape that may be.
Moreover, a mass scale production and marketing of eco-friendly light and handy jute bags can resist the onslaught of polythene and plastic bags. Such steps and measures can help flourish the country's cottage industry, contributing to generation of many jobs. This is a way through which the country can get rid of polythene and plastic use. It is essential to take a work plan to find a safe and easy alternative to use of polythene and one-time plastic products. This has to be done immediately.
Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled is a retired Professor of Economics and Vice Principal at Cumilla Women's Government College, Cumilla.
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