Plastic litter generation and perception- a case study from Sadarghat Launch Terminal, Bangladesh

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Globally 268,950 tonnes of plastic mass is floating into the oceans which makes it a huge global environmental issue with 31.9 million tonnes of mismanaged waste. Bangladesh being a developing economy in South Asia, inputs 17,687 tonnes of littered plastics within 50kms of its coastline only; while the total plastic input of Bangladesh by sources is still unknown. With 43 routes of 120 functioning inland marine vessels approximately, Inland water transport (IWT) sector of Bangladesh continues to be an important mode of transport of passengers and trade items. Three government institutions are responsible for managing this sector having an agency specially assigned for environmental aspects and safety. However, there is no database on the amount of plastic litter generated from marine vessels, which is a main polluting source in Buriganga River of Bangladesh. This research emerged as the first stock taking to measure litter generation from marine vessels in riverine systems. The main objective was to create a baseline for policy formulation through quantification of plastic litter. Methodology includes manually collecting and weighing wastes and tools like survey questionnaire and key informant interviews with stakeholders. 12 routes of river ways and 144 passengers as the representative sample for data analysis. According to the findings of primary data collection, the total amount of plastic wastes generated per day per route of Buriganga river from marine vessels stands at 76.6 kg and with all routes combined, total amount stands at 436.3 kg. Hence, plastic wastes generated per month turns out to be 13,089 kg and in a year its 4.78 million kg. This yearly input is 0.6% of the total mismanaged waste input of Bangladesh into the Bay of Bengal, that is 0.79 metric tons. Amount of plastic wastes generated from long routes is 47.1 kg and that of short routes is 25.5 kg. Pack of chips, pack of cigarettes, polybags, plastic bottles and containers, bottle caps made of plastics are the main littered wastes found from the launches. Lack of implementation of regulatory measures, ineffective waste management system dedicated for wastes generated from marine vessels is responsible for the worse pollution despite of locals being aware of environmental degradation. This research will be a forerunner in understanding the magnitude of the problem so that government can adopt proper unified policy for marine vessels in riverine systems.
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Environmental Science and Management
North South University
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