Dhaka, Bangladesh
Replace polybags with non-toxic ones

Replace polybags with non-toxic ones

Very recently, we come to know of the glad tidings that fully organic, bio-degradable bags made in Bangladesh can replace polybags and those are now set to hit the local market soon. These bags are in fact 100 per cent organic bags made from roots of cassava, a South American plant with potato-like roots. These bio-degradable shopping bags, an initiative of a Chattogram based young entrepreneur of the Ecospear Ltd., dissolve easily in land or warm water without harming the environment. The bags have an Organic Waste Systems (OWS) certification from Belgium. Buyers from the UK, France, Sweden and Spain have already shown great interest to buy the bags in bulks. Environmentalists say the quality of the bags is good and natural. The chain shops can be encouraged by the authorities to use the bags. Experts opine these bags can be a perfect alternative for polythene bags, which were banned in Bangladesh in 2002, but are still widely used. After a long deliberation on the deleterious effect of polythene and plastic, a ban was put on the use of plastic and polythene bags and the government made the use of jute bags compulsory through an amendment to the Jute Packaging Act, 2013. The use of plastic and polythene has swelled by 50 times over 20 years and despite the ban, marketing of polybags in massive quantity is still going on as the law is not implemented strictly. Maybe, this surge in polythene and plastic use is attributed to the absence of cheaper alternative materials. Everyday, about two crore polybags are used in Dhaka city, according to Poribesh Bachao Andolon (PoBA). Superstores and kitchen-market grocers do not like jute bags because they are expensive, thicker and heavier than artificial packaging. But most of the consumers throw the bags away after use and polybags eventually end up in the garbage disposal grounds, polluting the soil, air and rivers. The nonbio-degradable bags could take a few hundred years to degrade. They remain in nature like a hostile alien, clog sewers, prevent air from entering into and minerals to pass through soil and water. As the new bags are totally non-toxic and do not cause the environment any harm, the authorities should promote marketing of these bags. It is learnt that these bags will cost between TK 5 and TK 25 each depending on their size and thickness and can be used for about a month. The cost will drastically fall if the government reduces the import duty on cassava starch, which is 31 per cent now.

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