International plastic summit

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FT Online:

A plastic summit, expected to be highly representative not only of local companies but also of global participants, amply demonstrates the potential of this particular industry in Bangladesh. Have 300 or so companies from as many as 12 countries ever showcased their array of products including raw materials, machinery, technologies and   services in one such industrial single event? Add to this the 11,000 professional buyers who are supposed to visit the show, it surely qualifies to be a mega event. The mega event apart, what is more gratifying is the confidence reposed in this manufacturing sector by foreigners. They have rightly spotted that the next plastic hub, after China, will be this country. It is because they have shown interest in the summit where a wide range of finished products, raw materials, machinery, technological innovation and services will be vying with each other for drawing attention of local entrepreneurs. Maybe, the issue of foreign investment too will prominently feature in the deliberations of seminars to be held over four days.
The local companies have already given a good account of themselves by radically improving the look and quality of plastic goods. Introduction of better technology and other supports will definitely take the quality of products to a still higher level. This is where the potential of the industry can be fully realised. Plastic products must be of international standard and in their export actually lies the industry’s success. It appears that China is looking for relocation of its units and in that case Bangladesh can be a strong candidate for welcoming such units and investment.
Bangladesh’s domestic consumption of plastic goods far outweighs their export. According to the president of the Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA), the country has a potential of exporting such goods worth Tk 40 billion now as against the products manufactured and used internally, which are valued at Tk 200 billion. The export capability can be increased manifold if a comprehensive plan is devised for management of the industry. The industry will certainly receive a shot in the arm if foreign companies get interested in introduction of technology and pouring in money for modernising the industry in all aspects including waste management and recycling.
Sure enough, not everything with plastic industry is environmentally sound. Plastic waste is not supposed to pose as great a problem as polythene does if the recycling issue can be made a salient feature of not only production but also of after-use treatment by consumers. If users are aware of the danger of randomly throwing away rejected plastic materials, half of the problem is taken care of. Its resale value and recycling factor have to be stressed upon so that rejected plastic goods are collected well. Technology is getting improved in order to deal with the waste disposal problem. On this count no concession should be made from the day one. The proposal that polythene, plastic bags and other such materials must be brought under a comprehensive packaging act merits consideration. After all, any industry is sustainable only if it is environmentally sound