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Plastic mini packs harming health, environ severely

Over 1.92 lakh tonnes produced annually in country

03 July 2022

Staff Reporter :
The plastics used for packaging shampoo, biscuits, chips, etc. are polluting environment and harming human health severely as they have multilayer with toxic chemicals and heavy metals, according to a study.
It said that the country was producing over 1.92 lakh tonnes of mini-packs or sachets and 1.06 million tonnes of single use plastic annually exploiting human bodies and environment.
The Environment and Social Development Organisation (ESDO) unveiled the study report titled "Plastic sachet: Small packet with huge environmental destruction" at its head office in the capital on Saturday.
The study report was based on a survey conducted from June, 2021 to May, 2022 in Dhaka, Rangpur and Chittagong divisions. A total of 2,375 consumers participated in the survey.
Of the total amount of the sachets, 40 per cent comes from food items, 24 per cent from cosmetics, 8 per cent from medicine, 7 per cent from cooking ingredients and the rest from others, the study said.
Syed Marghub Murshed, Chairperson of ESDO said, "Plastic is a byproduct of petroleum and it will not be in use when we will shift to renewable energy. But its harmful impact will remain in the environment for thousand years."
"Government should look after the issue as our neighbouring country India has already banned the single use plastic, which effected July 1," said Murshed, who was also a former secretary of the government.
"Packet is small but its harmful impact is big. Having multilayer with toxic chemicals like chromium, cadmium and adhesive, it harms lung, creates headache, invites reproductive illness and lung alignment," said ESDO Secretary General Shahriar Hossain,  
"It is a slow poison. We are eating biscuits from the sachets, with them we are eating micro plastic and different additives too," he added.
"Being non-recyclable and having harmful substances, it affects agricultural land and poses a threat to foods. The sachets are also clogging drains that can increase floods in urban areas," he said.
The survey also observed that more than 69,841 tonnes of single use plastics are produced in Cox's Bazar area and 9,073 tonnes in Kutupalong, while sachet waste are 13, 968 tonnes and 1, 633 tonnes respectively.      "Reuse and recycle of other plastics can accelerate circular economy. But these sachets are not recyclable. So, the government should take initiatives to stop manufacturing of such a harmful product by enacting law," Shahriar said.
Low cost, easy accessible and unawareness among people are the major reasons for increase in its production, he said.
The study also placed a 12-point recommendation in order to reduce production of the harmful sachets in the country.
The recommendations including enacting law to regulate the manufacturing, use and import of all forms of single-use plastic, strict monitoring, providing guidelines on recycling and safe disposal, safe waste management mechanism, creating alternative product on the basis of 4R (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle), encouraging use of alternative packaging with papers, leaves, etc.
Besides, capacity building of the local manufacturers in producing sustainable and environment-friendly alternatives and creating awareness among people will help to reduce the sachets production, the survey observed.
The ESDO's Technical Advisor and a former additional IGP Md Mokhlesur Rahman and Executive Director Siddika Sultana, among others, were present at the roundtable. 

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