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Bangladeshi youth tackle plastic pollution

05 May 2023

Country’s annual per-capita plastic consumption in urban areas has trebled since 2005


Young people in Bangladesh hold a neighbour rally to urge their neighbours to reduce, re-use, and recycle

Young people in Bangladesh hold a neighbour rally to urge their neighbours to reduce, re-use, and recycle

YOUNG people in northern Bangladesh are seeking to educate their neighbours and communities to tackle plastic pollution, reported to be overwhelming the country.

Youth Green Clubs have been set up by the government, in collaboration with a partner of the Christian charity Tearfund. They have distributed coloured bins for sorting and recycle waste, and are trying to change attitudes to waste and recycling. The clubs teach people how to compost waste and use it to feed plants.

Mim, aged 19, a president of one of the clubs, said: “We want to make everyone aware how harmful plastic is, because the water, soil, and air are being polluted. Before, we were not aware, either.”

According to a World Bank estimate, between 2005 and 2020, Bangladesh’s annual per-capita plastic consumption in urban areas trebled. Just over one third — 36 per cent — of plastic waste is recycled. Bangladesh was the first country to ban plastic bags, but the law has not been widely enforced.

A study last year found that at least 17 species of fish and three species of shellfish from rivers flowing through the Sundarbans in Bangladesh — the world’s largest mangrove forest — were contaminated with microplastics. The environment, forest, and climate-change ministry announced last month a ban on single-use plastic in the 6500km² of the Sundarbans.

Bangladesh is the most polluted country on earth, and this is leading to a shortening of average life expectancy of about seven years, the World Air Quality report says.

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