Bangladesh

Submitted by Bangladesh Municipal Development Fund
Summary of information
Highest priority waste streams
1. Municipal solid waste
2. Organic waste
3. Industrial waste
Highest priority areas of capacity building
1. Policy and regulatory
2. Social
3. Technical and scientific
Narrative summary
Bangladesh (Bangladesh Municipal Development Fund)’s responses to the needs assessment survey show that multiple interlinked issues regarding its high-priority waste streams need to be addressed simultaneously. Societal or generator participation in waste management needs to be improved. In some waste streams such as organic and industrial waste, the absence of policies and laws (both punitive and educational or awareness-raising) has led to a lack of participation from waste generators. In others such as MSW, the capacity of the public sector to procure funding and to reach out to all social strata needs to be strengthened. The informal sector, already engaged with multiple waste streams, needs to be recognized and provided with facilities. The sector can be a key actor in demonstrating the potential economic value of waste to other groups in society. The responses, however, show that the country can draw experience from successful waste management efforts in the past. Past efforts to manage waste plastics, where a combination of legislation and public education has helped to decrease waste generation, can act as a guideline for future activities.

Municipal solid waste (MSW)
MSW is considered the waste stream with the most pressing need for better management in Bangladesh. The lack of funds for MSW management is ranked as the greatest concern. Without donor support, many municipalities do not have access to the technology needed for MSW management, such as the weighbridge and waste characterization/quantification laboratories. Importantly, municipal officials also lack a sufficient understanding of MSW management, and would benefit from better training on these issues. Although governmental regulations on MSW exist, such as the Local Government (Municipal) Act (2009), they are vague, they not specify obligations, and thus are rarely enforced by municipalities. National policies, such as the 3R strategy, also exist, promoting MSW use as compost, production materials and energy (such as refuse-derived fuel). A detailed plan to implement the 3R strategy, delegating authority and responsibility to individual municipalities while also recognizing the role of the informal sector, would ensure improvement in MSW management. The lack of environmental awareness amongst societa l groups tasked with the disposal of MSW, often within the lower strata, is also of notable significance. Domestic workers are named as an example of an important target for MSW education. Thus governmental institutions also need to cooperate with donors, non-governmental organizations and civil society representatives to better reach out to local communities.

Organic waste
Organic waste management is also seen as a high-ranking priority for Bangladesh. Although organic waste composes around 80% of MSW, indicating great potential for compost and energy production, its segregation from inorganic waste at source is not regulated by MSW management law. The responses suggest that neither governmental nor societal actors satisfactorily understand the methods and benefits of using organic waste as a resource. Awareness campaigns towards waste generators have so far been isolated and unsuccessful. Although a number of non-governmental organizations and private sector actors have attempted commercially viable compost production, high costs and insufficient demand from the agricultural sector have prevented success. It is suggested that a governmental subsidy towards comp osting efforts may help sustain the sector. Above all, therefore, it is important for stakeholders in the country to recognize the potential of organic waste as a resource.

Industrial waste
In Bangladesh, the Ministry of Industries acts as the administrative authority for industrial waste management, while the Ministry of Forest and Environment (MoF&E) acts as the regulatory body for the waste stream. The Environmental Conservation Act (1995) and the Environment Act (2000) delegates implementation and enforcement of laws and policies to the Department of Environment (DoE), a subordinate office of MoF&E. However, the DoE lacks sufficient skilled human resources, advanced technological facilities, and infrastructural access to areas where industrial waste is particularly ill-managed. Despite donor support to the DoE, funds for managing industrial waste are still scarce. The private sector is responsible for much of the production of industrial waste, and is financially capable of contributing to its management. Nev ertheless the sector has so far not taken steps to comply with regulations due to social irresponsibility, combined with the inability of the DoE to enforce the regulations. Despite good societal awareness on the impact of untreated industrial waste, it is still a waste stream in which management can be greatly improved. Above all, it is important to therefore strengthen and expand the DoE.

Hazardous waste, including healthcare waste and e-waste
The management of hazardous waste, including healthcare waste and e-waste, is also of significant concern. The public and private sectors have begun to act on hazardous waste management. However, public awareness is still not satisfactory, even amongst the educated social strata, to which waste producers such as hospital staff belong. E-waste in particular is a newly emerging threat, and awareness is especially low. The responses emphasize the need to undertake an assessment on the problems and solutions regarding e-waste, including the problem of illegal dumping by foreign ships into the territorial seas of Bangladesh, an action in breach of the Basel Convention. Nevertheless, organizations such as think tanks have the potential (if they were encouraged to step forward by the government) to better alert the public an d waste generators on the importance of hazardous waste management. Yet importantly, funds for technological facilities to safely dispose of hazardous waste, such as incinerators and autoclaves, are lacking. Regulations regarding hazardous waste exist in Bangladesh, while the subcategory of e-waste is in the process of being legally addressed. The enforcement of regulations is therefore of a greater concern.

Waste plastics
The management of waste plastics is lower on the list of priorities for Bangladesh. The responses suggest that it has been generally successfully addressed through legal measures, such as the Environmental Conservation Act (1995) and the Environmental Court Act (2000), and awareness campaigns, such as in controlling the use of plastic bags. Such measures have lowered polyethylene usage and waste generation within society. The maintenance of this trend is thus a priority, while expanding the means of wa ste management is also a possible option, such as the use of recycled polyethylene into tarmac and refuse-derived fuel.

Waste agricultural biomass (WAB)
The management of WAB also is ranked low on the list of priorities for Bangladesh, given that the need for its management is unclear to authorities. Regulations regarding WAB management do not exist, although an understanding of WAB concerns appears imperative given the importance of the agricultural sector for the population and the economy of Bangladesh.