Waste management in Bangladesh: Collective steps and responsibility needed
Dhaka ranks 138th among 140th cities in Global Liveability Ranking 2019. Dhaka city generates 4,500 tons of household waste a day and collects only a nominal portion of it.
Dispersing garbage on the footpaths, open spaces and random places is a usual task for the city dwellers. Regarding medical waste, there are 4 types of medical waste namely clinical, laboratory, non-clinical and kitchen waste.
The clinics and hospitals produce a huge portion of medical waste without any proper waste disposal and management policy. More than 8000 industries are dumping their wastes without following any safety measures, in any places.
Though, in 2002, Bangladesh became the first country in the world to ban thinner polyethene bags. But, this maiden glory didn't sustain for a long period. The enactment of "Mandatory Jute Packaging Act 2010" to prevent the use of polyethene has also failed to melt the iceberg.
Existing laws and regulations are talking about proper waste management policy also. With having clear provisions about proper waste collection and disposal, Local Government (City Corporation) (Amended) Act, 2011 says, the cleaners are supposed to collect waste from every house within a fixed time-frame at night, but they happily violate the rule by collecting it in the morning. The Environment Policy 1992 intends to restrict disposal of municipal, industrial or agricultural garbage in any water bodies like rivers, ponds, drains. It also discourages open truck transportation of garbage during the daytime. Albeit, Reality says, an open truck with a pile of garbage during the daytime, is a common scenery for the people. Environment Conversation Rule 1997, the Factory Act 1965, Urban Management Policy Statement 1998, the Penal code 1860 all of them have specific provisions regarding waste management, garbage disposal and punishment for the offenders. Laws are there but vacuum is found in the matter of enforcement, in many grounds.
Adding with given legal mechanisms, several non-government organizations are working with the government to overcome the problem. Prism, DusthaShasthya Kendra (DSK), CARE, Prodipan are some of the NGOs' who are working relentlessly beneath this specific agenda.
The DNCC (Dhaka North City Corporation) and DSCC (Dhaka South City Corporation) installed approximately 6,000 waste bins in the city in 2016. But the project failed as a consequence of the negligence of the city dwellers. People are not comfortable with putting the garbage in the waste bins and many of the bins were stolen also. In addition to this, about dust pollution, the DNCC and DNSC have no exclusive plans in their hands. Road digging and creation and destruction of buildings without following any safety measures are going on rapidly, randomly, recklessly. The govt. has no control upon those activities. DNCC & DNSC has tried to go on with the plan of 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) policy. Low funding has made further movement of this policy quite uncertain.
Raising social awareness is very necessary to get a proper status quo of waste management. Through social media, technology, campaign and all other means, the message need to be preached into the skull of the common people is, by not following the rules of waste management, they are making their surroundings toxic and melancholically intolerable to live.
Pandora's box is, the responsibility of the concerned authority is exact, but the activities of the same authority is not exact. Negligence, corruption, apathy to accountability is playing the protagonist role here. The concerned authority should realize their responsibility and start taking actions, for the sake of their betterments, for the sake of the environment.
The govt. has failed to step ahead with 3R policy, they can go for 5R (Re-think, Reduce, Recycle, Recovery, Re-use) policy now, which is much more sustainable than 3R policy.
Adoption of modern technology to destroy waste is another good option, but this is a bit costly. In Bangladesh, only ICDDRB (International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research Bangladesh) uses modern technology to destroy medical waste. Decomposition of waste instead of destroying is a good option for cheap and quick waste disposal of Bangladesh.
The country, Colombia, is using a mechanism named ECOBOT for waste management. The example of Indonesia is also relevant, who are providing a clinical scheme to control plastic waste. China uses 95% of the total wastes as fertilizers. Those mechanisms of other countries can be a true pathfinder for Bangladesh.
Dhaka is passing a very crucial time. The air, the water, the waste management, nothing is in good shape. Every status quo is scattered, every ratio is alarming. Moving on with such faulty and confusing steps, keeping the same orthodox mentality in the head, the situation will never see the light of transparency.
Collective steps and collective responsibility are an urgent need.
Shuvashis Sarkar Shuvo is with the Department of Law, University of Chittagong