Quantification of national plastic flow in Bangladesh: A material flow perspective

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After the bronze and iron ages the present period can be named as plastic age and marked as the beginning of the Anthropocene. Human affection for plastics has resulted in diversified and ever increasing use of the material however its end of life consequences to human economy and natural environment are little understood particularly in developing countries. In recent past, the plastics industry has emerged as a prominent manufacturing sector in Bangladesh that necessitates formulating sustainable plastics management policy and monitoring. In this study, national plastics flows for Bangladesh have been investigated and quantified using material flow analysis for 2005, 2010 and 2015 to represent years of lowest, stable and highest import respectively. From 2000 to 2015 the total import increased almost three times (1328, 067). Plastics raw materials persisted as the dominant (88 %) category of which HDPE, LDPE, PP, PVC, PET are the major primary forms. In 2015 around 1.5 million tonnes of plastics were manufactured whereas about 1.4 million tonnes of plastic products were consumed contrary to around 579,505 tonnes in 2005. More than half of this consumed amount bestowed to increase in net stock which resulted in generation of 417,597 tonnes of post-consumer plastic waste from diversified consumption sectors. Roughly half of the total waste was recycled in 2015 which was double the recycled amount (136,382 tonnes) of 2005 resulting in a saving of import of virgin plastics. Prevailing poor waste disposal and management practices cause a loss of 136,749 tonnes of plastics in 2015. Lack of data has one of the major challenges for conducting this study. The study relied mostly on import/ export data from international sources since there is no domestic reliable time series data on plastics consumption, waste generation and loss. In Bangladesh the plastic sector lacks the attention from a regulatory and environmental perspective and therefore it has no specific policy guideline particularly on plastics management. It is high time for Bangladesh to formulate a plastic waste management and regulatory strategy to address the issues of environmental sustainability.
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Environmental Science and Management
North South University
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