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World Environment Day today

‘Enforce law to end plastic hazards’

Published : 04 Jun 2023 10:20 PM

The World Environment Day-2023 is being observed in the country as elsewhere around the world today (Monday) with a view to creating mass awareness for conservation of nature and environment.

Different government and non-government organisations, environmental platforms and various other socio-cultural organisations have chalked out elaborate programmes to observe the day. They are observing the day with this year’s theme of the day ‘Solutions to Plastic Pollution’. 

Environment experts are worried by mounting hazards of plastic in Bangladesh and said that this year’s theme of the day coincides with the reality in the Bangladesh perspective. 

Environment experts and also Deputy Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Habibun Nahar, MP, have called for protecting the country from the mounting hazards of plastic use, particularly the plastic waste.

Habibun Nahar, MP, and the environment experts were speaking at a roundtable discussion ‘Environmental and Legal Context of Air Pollution from Plastic Burning’ at the auditorium of Stamford University Bangladesh in the capital on Sunday (June 4). 

Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS) and Bangladesh Resource Center for Indigenous Knowledge (BARCIK) jointly arranged the event on the occasion of the World Environment Day-2023. Paribesh Uddyag, Bangladesh Nature Conservation Alliance (BNCA) and Center for Participatory Research and Development (CPRD) were co-organisers of the event. 

Dr. Md Moniruzzaman, vice-chancellor of Stamford University Bangladesh; presided over the roundtable discussion where Habibun Nahar, MP, attended as the chief guest and SM Manjurul Hannan Khan, former additional secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; presented the keynote speech.  

Prof Dr. Ahmed Kamruzzaman Majumder, founding chairman of CAPS and chairman of Environmental Science dept at Stamford University; Advocate Syed Mahbubul Alam Tahin, secretary of Centre of Law Affairs (CLPA); Muhammad Anowarul Hoque, member secretary of BNCA; also spoke on the occasion, among others. 

Before the roundtable discussion, a human chairman was formed in front of the main gate of the Stamford University Bangladesh where the guests of the roundtable discussion, students of the university and environmental activists participated.    

In the keynote, SM Manjurul Hannan Khan said that air pollution is increasing due to burning of plastic, polluted air is having a major impact on biodiversity. Toxic plastics that accumulate in soil and water bodies are entering the food chain and entering the food cycle of different levels of organisms. Therefore, plastic waste produced should be properly managed. Along with this, open burning of plastic should be stopped. Law enforcement for plastic management is the need of the hour.

In her speech as the chief guest, Habibun Nahar, MP, said that plastic is putting the environment of the country at risk of disaster. Plastics are polluting the soil, water and oceans. Burning plastic also pollutes the air, so now we don’t get clean air to breathe, she added. 

She further said that the government alone cannot reduce this pollution. Although it is not possible to recycle plastic at individual level, we can refuse and reuse plastic if we want. This will reduce the amount of plastic waste to a great extent. As a citizen of the country, everyone should try to reduce plastic pollution from everyone's position and cooperate with the government in enforcing the laws prescribed for plastic pollution, she added. 

BSS adds: To mark the World Environment Day-2023, President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday issued separate messages, wishing success of all programmes taken on this occasion. 

In his message, the President said there is no alternative to pollution-free and natural environment for the existence of mankind and the entire living thing in the world. 

“But we are constantly polluting the environment in various man-made ways,” he said, adding that unplanned use of plastic products has made environmental pollution more problematic.

The head of the state said more than 400 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide every year, half of which is single-use plastic and most of it is not recyclable.

Noting that plastic does not rot and corrode easily and, a result, it flows into wetlands, rivers and seas and has an adverse effect on the environment, he said.

“Plastic pollution is a visible threat not only to the marine environment, but also to biodiversity and human health in every environment from the mountain tops to the ocean floor,” the President said.

In order to prevent plastic pollution, the government as well as businessmen, consumers and all concerned should take a concerted initiative, he underscored.

Reuse of plastic products and finding the way of sustainable alternatives are very important to prevent plastic pollution, said Shahabuddin.

“By maintaining the integrity of nature, we will save the environment together and build a beautiful 'Sonar Bangla' as dreamt by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and this is everyone's vow,” he continued.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in her message, said globally, over the past 70 years, multipurpose and uncontrolled use of plastics, especially over-production of single-use plastic, its widespread use and mismanagement are causing water-logging and destabilizing ecosystems ranging from fertile agricultural lands to water bodies.

From marine fish to other marine animals, livestock and humans, the micro-plastics are entering through the food chain, the premier added.

As a result, the number of marine animals is decreasing and various living creatures including humans are suffering from cancer and various chronic diseases, she said.

"Therefore, now is the right time to reduce the production and use of plastics, increase the reuse and recycling of plastics and develop viable alternatives to plastics," she underscored.

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) has already formed an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) giving greatest importance to plastic pollution and its solution and it is working to draft a Legally Binding Agreement by 2024 with the aim of stopping plastic pollution, the premier added.

She further said that Awami League led-government has taken multifaceted initiatives to reduce plastic production and proper management.

The government has adopted the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995 (Amended 2010), Environmental Conservation Rules-2023 and the Mandatory Jute Packaging rules 2013, she said.

To achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals-2030, the government is implementing various programs with utmost importance on nature and environment conservation, she said.

She added that special emphasis is being given to set up new economic zones and industrial establishments to ensure compliance with environmental and environmental regulations.

"We have adopted the Blue-Economy Action Plan to mainstream marine environment conservation, prevention of marine pollution and sustainable management of marine resources," she continued.

"Also, our government has already formulated the 'National Adaptation Plan (NAP) 2023-50, Updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) 2021 and 'Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan (MCPP) 2022-41' as part of a comprehensive response to climate change," she said.

She hoped through the celebration of World Environment Day, public awareness and public involvement in environmental conservation and sustainable management of the environment will increase.

Both the president and the premier wished the World Environment Day a success.