Bangladesh speaks out on single-use plastic

Posted by Helen Townsend on

“An estimated 312 tons of single-use plastic is produced per month in Bangladesh…approximately 80-85% are discarded after one use and end up in drains, canals and rivers, creating massive pollution in the rivers which eventually ends up in the Bay of Bengal.”

Bangladesh is where my journey away from single-use plastics began. While living there, and in Nepal, in 2009-10 I saw what happens to plastic rubbish when it’s not conveniently taken away into landfill.

Helen in Dhaka 2009

Now 10 years on, I’ve started to realise how plastic pollution affects not only the environment, but inequality as well.

Bangladesh is the 12th most densely populated country in the world and the 145thby GDP per capita (by comparison NZ is 198thby population density and 28thby GDP per capita)

 It’s a low-lying river delta, and millions of people live near the water. When the monsoon rains come the rivers rise quickly. When the rivers, drains and canals are blocked by plastics flooding worsens bringing increased hardship to people already living in poverty.

“In the slow process of their decomposition, the plastics release toxic chemicals which are now being detected in human bloodstreams and  may cause cancer, infertility, birth defects and many other ailments.”

When plastic decomposes in the water supply that is relied on for drinking and washing then the people who are most vulnerable are also likely to suffer the most from the plastic toxicity.

Photo: Helen in Dhaka 2009

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