as water becomes trapped in plastic. Plastic also degrades over time, releasing smaller particles called microplastics, posing a significant risk to humans and ecosystems. And, who among us hasn’t seen the heartbreaking pictures of dolphins, turtles, whales, and birds harmed – and their lives cut short – by plastic pollution?
. Of that 646 tons, only 37 percent is recycled, and mostly by the informal sector. Landfills are most often found filled with single-use plastics, such as thin shopping bags.
More than a year ago, when I visited the remote Katka beach in the majestic Sunderbans forest, we picked about two cubic meters of plastic waste on our walk around the beach. And this beach is not even a crowded tourist hub like Cox’s Bazar.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated plastic pollution. Environmental Sciences and Technology journal estimates that globally, more than 129 billion disposable masks and 65 billion throw-away gloves are used every month — most ending up in our rivers and oceans.. The
We must act now. If we don’t,We can’t let that happen.
Collaborations can make a difference
The Bangladesh government has proactively responded to this challenge by issuing bans and regulations. In 2002, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change banned plastic carry bags. In 2018, a draft regulation on use of plastic packaging by food, beverage & agro-inputs industries reinforced its commitment to address plastic issues. In 2020, a High Court order was issued to ban single-use plastic in coastal areas and in all hotels and motels across the country.
The 8th Five Year Plan also focuses on improving solid waste management in the urban areas. With support from the World Bank, the government has finalized a draft multi-sectoral action plan for sustainable management of plastics. All these initiatives give us hope.
Solutions from the youth
The contest called for innovative solutions in combating the plastics surge. The diversity of solutions from the winners was impressive and futuristic – from a plastic management system using a micro-credit business model to a floating waste-cleaning robot as well as cutting-edge digital platforms to incentivize households and organizations to recycle. Indeed, these are the leaders of tomorrow.
The Future is here
All the four award-winning ideas are implementable and scalable.
For example, Parley for the Oceans, and the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) with support from World Bank have launched the $50 million Plastic-free Rivers and Seas for South Asia project, which will support eco-innovations in the region. We are also working together with the government to prepare a new pollution management project.
Bangladesh has played a critical role in leading the world’s efforts on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Learn more about the winning teams.
Watch: A Promise to Keep