Entrepreneurs have urged the government to provide incentives and tax rebate facilities on the private sector initiatives for innovative, sustainable and smart plastic waste management.
They made the call at a seminar, titled 'Enabling Policy for Sustainable Plastic Waste Management', jointly organised by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industries (FBCCI) and Unilever Bangladesh at a city hotel in the capital on Saturday.
Speaking at the seminar as the chief guest, Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperative (LGRD) Minister Md Tajul Islam laid emphasis on finding innovative and smart solutions for plastic waste management.
"Moreover, waste collection is currently not considered to be sustainable as it is still not viewed as a business proposition," he said.
An effective solution will be to follow the circular system which ensures that the consumption of plastic does not increase and moves towards a sustainable waste management model, said the minister.
Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin, while addressing the event as a special guest, said, "Waste management is a complex process as it has multiple industries and stakeholders involved."
"Our focus is to co-create policies that are practical and effective, in consultation with stakeholders, including brand owners, to intervene in the value chain," he said.
"We need to identify the mechanisms and institutional arrangements necessary to co-devise a circular plastic economy," he added.
Speaking on the occasion as a special guest, Senior Secretary of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Tofazzal Hossain Miah said that the government's Vision-2041 had incorporated plastic waste management in its sustainable urbanisation goals.
FBCCI President Md Jashim Uddin in his welcome speech said, "It is very common that plastic usage will increase with per capita income and GDP, so the use of more plastic is a good sign for the economy."
Using more plastic is not the problem - plastic waste management is the main challenge, he said.
One key area for intervention is creating mass awareness about waste disposal, he said.
"If we could segregate waste at source like in developed countries by increasing the engagement of people, we would be able to implement a sustainable model for plastic waste management," added Mr Uddin.
Unilever Bangladesh CEO and Managing Director Zaved Akhtar at his presentation said, "We have taken a few pilot projects in collaboration with city corporations. If our voluntary initiatives do not get proper facilitation, other organisations will not be encouraged to participate."
Professor Ijaz Hossain, Panel Advisor, FBCCI and former dean, Faculty of Engineering at BUET, in his keynote paper said that the government had taken few good initiatives to address waste management in Bangladesh.
However, the main challenge is the lack of technical and financial capability of the municipalities to collect waste from households and process unsegregated mixed waste, he added.
President of Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association Shamim Ahmed said the plastic sector acts as the co-driver of all other industries.
Hence, the government should invest more in infrastructure development for sustainable waste management, he added.
"We stand ready to work with the government of Bangladesh as well as the private sector to help program and finance complementary investments to strengthen plastic waste management," said Ms Eun Joo Allison Yi, senior environmental specialist of the World Bank.
Iqbal Habib, FBCCI Panel Expert and Joint Secretary of Bangladesh Environment Movement; Md Moinul Islam, Urban Planner, Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC); and Khadem Mahmud Yousuf, Managing Director and CEO of Bangladesh Petrochemical Company, also participated in the panel discussion.
The seminar was moderated by Shamia Akther, Director and Head of Communication and Partnerships of Unilever Bangladesh.
FBCCI Senior Vice President Mostofa Azad Chowdhury Babu, vice presidents Salahuddin Alamgir, Md. Amin Helaly and Md Habib Ullah Dawn, Secretary General of FBCCI Mohammad Mahfuzul Hoque were present at the seminar.
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