Single-use plastic products threaten health in Jashore

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Newsnow Desk: Public health, as well as the environment of Abhaynagar upazila in Jashore, stand threatened as single-use plastic products flood shops and clog drains.

Environmentalists accuse the Department of Environment’s nonchalant attitude for the severe situation and demand necessary steps to implement the High Court’s January 9 directive of stopping the use of polythene bags and single-use plastic products across the country within a year.

Sources say there are about 8,000 tea stalls in Abhaynagar and an estimated 100,000 cups of tea are sold every day. Eighty percent of the shops use single-use plastic cups.

Environmentalists say these cups are responsible for clogging drains and causing waterlogging in Nawapara municipal area.

The plastic plates and cups are popular items used on various occasions as they can just be thrown away after use. These cups are mostly sold at Nawapara Market.

Abdur Rahman, Kalim Uddin and Anwar Hossain, tea stall owners in Payra Bazar of the upazila, said policemen from Bhabdah police camp broke their glasses and cups as they did not have one-time plastic cups.

This prompted them to start using plastic cups, they said but declined to comment when asked how they discarded the single-use items.

Mangal Kumar, a plastic products trader, said there are about 20 shops in Nawapara Market that sell one-time plastic items. “Every day they’re selling around 100,000 single-use plastic cups that cost 70 paisa to one taka per piece,” he said.

Serious threat to health

MM Kamarul Islam, a member of the environmental group, said plastic is as harmful to the human body as to the environment. Immediate and effective measures should be taken to stop the use of these imperishable plastic materials, he said.

Dr SM Mahamudur Rahman Rizvi, Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer, explained that these products are made using harmful chemicals called polymers, which cause adverse reactions in the human body and pose a serious threat to the environment.

“Drinking tea or hot water in plastic cups causes severe damage to the skin, heart, kidneys and liver,” he said adding that it is better to use clay cups or glass cups instead of plastic.

Upazila Assistant Commissioner (Land) KM Rafiqul Islam said the use of plastic products made of polyethylene and polypropylene or any compound of both is a violation of the Bangladesh Environmental Conservation Act 1995.

Anyone could face up to two years in jail or a fine of Tk 2 lakh or both for using these items, he said.

“We need to raise widespread public awareness to prevent the use of plastics. If necessary, mobile courts will be operated,” he added.

No one from DoE’s Jashore office was available for comment.