Demand for implementation of e-waste management rules in Bangladesh

E-waste poses serious threat to public health and environment. Demand for proper implementation of newly adopted e-waste management rules has been raised by the civil society and the environmentalists in Bangladesh.

[Dhaka, 30 June 2021] E-Waste is a serious threat to the environment and public health but no proper steps are taken yet for e-waste management. As the use of electronic and electric products is increasing day by day which indicates production of e-waste will increase too. Therefore, the only way to keep public health and environment safe from toxic elements created from e-waste is to effective waste management and implementation of newly enacted E-Waste Management Rules. The speakers urged in a national convention took place both in-person and online titled ‘E-waste Management and Environmental Sustainability in Bangladesh: Challenges and Way Forward’ this morning in Dhaka. The event was organized by research and advocacy organization, Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment (VOICE).

Chairman of PKSF, Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad graced the event as the Chief Guest and the event was moderated by the Executive Director of VOICE, Ahmed Swapan Mahmud. Among the panelists, Dr. Shahriar Hossain, General Secretary, ESDO; Ziaul Haque, Director, Department of Environment, Ministry of Forest and Environment, GoB; Sharif Jamil, General Secretary, BAPA; Mihir Biswas, Joint Secretary, BAPA; Selim Samad, a renowned journalist; Dr. Syeda Aireen Jaman, Secretary General, PEN International Bangladesh; Aminur Rasul, environmental activist and Iftekhar Mahmud, Senior environmental reporter, the Prothom Alo spoke in the program. Among others, the leaders of various environmental and social movements and representatives of various professional associations including NGOs, civil society, teachers, journalists and women leaders were present in the event.

Abtab Khan Shawon, Program Officer of VOICE, delivered a keynote speech which stated that in 2018, the country produced 900 grams of e-waste per capita. Bangladesh is increasing generation of e-waste at the rate of 20 percent per year which is more than many Asian countries. By 2035, the country will generate 4.62 million tons of e-waste every year. Bangladesh sells electrical goods of 1.36 billion dollar a year and 40 percent of them are refrigerators and 30 percent are televisions. However, in terms of quantity, the most used electric product in Bangladesh is mobile phone. About half of all mobile phone consumers buy more than one mobile phones each year and throw away one which creates enormous amount of e-waste. Only 3% of the total e-waste generated in Bangladesh are recycled and the rest are dumped in landfills, rivers etc.

In the Chief Guest’s address, Chairman of PKSF Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said that in order to build an eco-friendly e-waste recycling system in the country, the participation of all the ministries, city corporations, district administrations and involvement of the public is very important. 

Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, Executive Director of VOICE, said, it is time to increase the timeliness of the hazardous waste (e-waste) management rules and implement them. In addition, the government needs to research the amount of electronic products being converted into electronic waste every year in the country.

Ziaul Haque, Director, Department of Environment, Ministry of Forest and Environment, GoB, said, it would be possible to protect the environment from e-waste if the new rules are followed and implemented properly. He mentioned that Article 15 of the newly published E-Waste Management Rules states that no old or used electrical and electronic products can be imported or donated, subsidized or otherwise accepted and the full application of Section 9’s ‘re-processor’s responsibility’ protects our environment from harm. The rules also set targets for e-waste collection by manufacturers, assemblers and large importers. In the first year of implementation of the rules, manufacturers, assemblers and large importers will have to collect 10 per cent of the e-waste generated. The target has been set to collect 20 per cent e-waste in the second year, 30 per cent in the third year, 40 per cent in the fourth year and 50 per cent in the fifth year.

Dr. Shahriar Hossain, General Secretary of ESDO, said that the damage to the environment due to electronic waste is a permanent damage and its impact is serious, so it is advisable to have legal obligations in this regard. He compared e-waste to ‘slow poison’ and urged everyone to be aware of it.

Sharif Jamil, General Secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), said the budget of the environment ministry has been reduced and the number of battery-powered vehicles in the district towns is increasing. If e-waste is processed in our country, it can be converted into valuable assets. He also stated that valuable parts of waste electronic products are being segregated at many scrap shops in the capital due to its good demand abroad.

Iftekhar Mahmud, an environmental journalist of the daily Prothom Alo, said about 30 per cent of the total imported e-products are turned into waste every year. With a little thought, its future catastrophe and horror can be predicted. Therefore, in order to maintain the ecological balance of developing Bangladesh, importance should be given to proper and effective e-waste management.

The speakers in the event collectively called for raising awareness on e-waste, proper waste management practices, and e-waste recycling. The speakers also spoke about the need to set up an e-waste treatment plant for this purpose. E-waste management on the basis of public-private partnership is also urged through proper implementation of the rules.

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