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Bangladesh

Paper Bags
Paperbags made out of school exercise
book and newspaper to replace plastic

 

Ban the bags!!! The government has taken the drastic step of banning the sale of polythene bags. The ban originally applied to Dhaka, and has since spread to the rest of the country.

The decision was finally taken to save the city from an impending environmental disaster. It is estimated that about ten million polythene bags are used in Dhaka everyday, with nine million being dumped.

The majority of these are not left in designated areas, but instead are discarded on the streets or into the drains.

Recycled envelope

Impact on the environment Since plastic does not decompose, the polythene bags clog drains and sewers, resulting in water logging.

The Department of the Environment has also estimated that the bottom of the Buriganga river has layers of plastic bags of 5 to 6 feet in depth, which has not only destroyed life in the river, but is also contributing to the collapse of the city's drainage system.

To recycle the polythene bags results in the release of hydrogen cyanide gas, which can lead to breathing difficulties and chest problems.

Bag handle

Return of jute Attempts have been made to ban them in the past, and it remains to be seen how effective the current ban is.

There has been opposition from the polythene bag manufacturers, who claim that around 1,300,000 workers will be made redundant. However, this claim has been disputed by the government and NGOs.

In the meantime, the production of environmentally friendly jute bags is increasing. Many of the jute mills had closed in the past because the use of plastic had made them unviable, so they are now returning to full production.

Dhaka Installation
an installation by art student in
Dhaka University using an old watertank

Double jeopardy There are other forms of pollution which cause serious problems.

In the case of Uttara Model Town, not only is the lake turning black in some areas as a result of latrines disposing human excreta straight into it, but there are also untreated sewer outlets in some sectors.

Despite this, the Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation is breeding fish in the lake without any steps to clean the water first - which means that those fish which survive the pollution are likely to carry toxins into the food chain.

Local residents therefore face a case of double contamination

 
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