The Financial Express

Plastic industry policy aims to create 500,000 jobs

| Updated: November 01, 2020 09:57:13

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The country's plastic and packaging industry is projected to grow at a rate of 15 per cent annually, and generate fresh employment for around 0.5 million people by 2026, sources said.

It has also targeted to become 'zero waste nation' for plastic and packaging consumption by 2030.

The government has made these projections in the latest draft of 'National Plastic Industry Development Policy 2020'.

The draft policy aims at eradicating difficulties and constraints, faced by industry start-ups, before 2022 and ensuring US$20 billion market by 2030.

The Ministry of Industries (MoI) drafted the policy and sought opinions from all stakeholders concerned in July.

When asked, a ministry official said they are working on the opinions, and will finalise the draft shortly.

Replying to a question, he added that the process took some time, as many ministries and private sector stakeholders are engaged in it, while the Covid-19 pandemic also delayed the development.

The draft policy mentions that despite having huge potentials, Bangladesh is far from attaining full advantage of preferential market access in export of plastics products, mainly due to lack of proper policy support and enabling business.

Though the local industry has tremendous prospects to grow further, it still lacks a well-designed approach and a strategic direction to overcome the challenges faced by the sector.

The draft has identified lack of testing facilities for quality control, innovative technology, mold design and mold making facilities, proper management of plastics wastes, and business friendly tax and tariff measures as the major challenges towards achieving the desired growth of the industry.

In the absence of such strategic approach and distinctive competitive strengths, local manufacturers are facing difficulties to compete in the global market.

"Keeping these in mind, the government has decided to prepare and publish Plastic Industry Development Policy 2020 to ensure a steady and target-oriented growth of this sector," according to the draft.

The policy will provide guidelines to improve production technology and product quality, develop new products, and promote international cooperation and technological exchanges to achieve better dynamism in this sector.

The policy also aims at taking actions to steer the use of plastic towards a sustainable circular economy, officials said.

The policy identifies measures to reduce the harms, caused by plastic waste and litter, help consumers take plastic items to waste management, improve efficiency of their recovery, recycling and product design, and create environment for investments and innovations in the circular economy.

It targets to help manufacturers become less dependent on fossil raw materials by increasing bio-based and biodegradable solutions, and make the sector ready for embracing the Industry 4.0 technologies, they added.

The policy also has a set of time-bound action matrix to achieve those broad development goals.

Talking to the FE, Shahedul Islam Helal, director of Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA), said the policy is the brainstorm outcome of industry people, the government and experts, focusing on long-term sustainability of the industry.

"We need advance preparations towards plastic recycling and waste management to prevent hazards simultaneously for sustainability of the industry," he added.

According to industry people, the global annual demand of plastic products has been steadily growing at more than 20 per cent rate since 2007.

At present, per capita consumption of plastics in the US is 109 kg, in China 38 kg, in India 11 kg, and five to seven kg in Bangladesh, compared to the global average of 50 kg per capita per annum.

Citing a global report, the draft said worldwide plastic market is expected to reach $721.14 billion by 2025.

The market for locally produced plastic products both at home and abroad is about $2.99 billion, whose 83.4 per cent is linked with local market and the rest 16.6 per cent is linked with global market, according to BPGMEA.

Export earnings from plastic products fell by 16.95 per cent to $26.17 million during the first quarter of current fiscal year, 2020-21, according to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data.

The country fetched $31.51 million during July-September period of last fiscal, it showed.

Earnings from plastic waste, on the other hand, grew by more than 114 per cent during the period.

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