The country's plastic goods manufacturers have demanded of the government to impose restrictions on import of waste or scrap plastic items which, according to them, put adverse impacts on the domestic industry and the environment.
Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA), a group of over 2,000 plastic goods manufacturers, has recently written a letter to the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), seeking its intervention in the matter immediately.
The BIDA later forwarded the letter to the commerce ministry to take necessary measures in this regard.
The letter, signed by BPGMEA president Md Jashim Uddin, said a large number of importers have long been importing waste plastic after taking permission from the ministry concerned.
They (importers) usually bring in used hangers and other scrap plastic items and recycle them for the international market as raw materials, it added.
According to the letter, the importers are damaging the image of the country as the factories usually don't produce any quality goods with such types of used plastics.
"We call for an immediate halt to the approval of import of such used plastics for the greater interests of the sector," the letter reads.
If restrictions are not imposed on import of waste plastic, it said, local plastic goods producers will lose its international market and competitive edge.
The plastic sector not only helps the country's ready-made garment (RMG) sector but also helps direct shipment of different types of plastic goods and toys in the international market.
The sector, which generates more than 1.2 million jobs, contributes over Tk 20 billion in taxes to the national exchequer.
Preferring anonymity, a commerce ministry high official said they are working on the matter. "We're yet to take any decision."
When contacted, former BPGMEA president Shamim Ahmed told the FE that different countries have already stopped importing waste plastics for the sake of their own interests. Imported waste plastic is also very harmful to the environment.
The local plastic market is growing fast. Its size, in terms of sales, is approximately Tk 400 billion a year, he said.
There are around 5,000 small, medium and large plastic goods manufacturing units. The figure was around 3,500 a couple of years back, he added.
Exports of plastic products increased significantly in the fiscal year 2018-19.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the plastic and melamine sector achieved a growth rate of 21.65 per cent with net export earnings of US$ 119.80 million last FY. Exports fetched US$ 98.48 million in the FY 2017-18.
Exports of four types of products-plastic toys, PP-woven polypropylene bags, plastic hangers and fax fibre bags-are increasing every year, industry insiders said.
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