Speakers demanded comprehensive law and policy for e-waste management to ensure environmental sustainability in Bangladesh

[Dhaka, 26 June 2021] Speakers at a press-briefing demanded comprehensive policy addressing the increasing problem of electronic waste (e-waste) and its management held today at the VOICE’s Civic Centre in Dhaka that is held both virtually and in-person. They said e-waste is increasing at the rate of 20 per cent every year in Bangladesh and contains highly toxic chemical components contaminating soil, groundwater and air, as well as affect the workers and the community living around it.

Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment (VOICE) organised the press briefing titled ‘Necessity of Immediate Enactment of E-waste Management Law for Environmental Sustainability in Bangladesh’. VOICE’s Executive Director, Ahmed Swapan Mahmud moderated the press briefing while Mihir Biswas, Joint Secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA); Professor Afzal Rehman, a prominent environmental activist; Abdul Quader, Executive Director of SETU; Iftekhar Mahmud, Environmental Reporter, Daily Prothom Alo; Ahmed Tofail, Business Editor, Daily Jaijaidin;  Md. Abdur Rahman, News Editor, Banglavision spoke at the press briefing.

A keynote presentation was delivered based on the research findings of VOICE on “E-waste state in Bangladesh: existing policy and policy gaps” by VOICE’s program officer Abtab Khan Shawon. The keynote stated that, in 2018 alone, Bangladesh produced around 4 lac metric tons of e-waste with about 20% growth rate per year. The recyclers are getting only 3% of the total generated waste, while the rest is dumped into landfills. There is specific law and ordinance for e-waste management and recycling but no noticeable implementation of this law observed. Also there is no enough formal plant for recycling of e-waste in Bangladesh.

Ahmed Swapan Mahmud Executive Director of VOICE said that; in recent years due to technological development and rapid growth of economy in Bangladesh, an unregulated market has grown for mobile, computers, consumer electronic products and home appliances. As there is not enough recycling factories, electronic product disposed every year and cause a new environmental challenge. He urged to enact e-waste management law to ensure environmental sustainability.

Emphasizing on the awareness among people about e-waste, Professor Afzal Rahman demanded to have guidelines by Education Ministry to set-up a mandatory Environment Club in every secondary school and colleges in Bangladesh to create awareness among children and young people on the environmental challenge and health hazard of use of unregulated electronic goods and generated e-waste from it. He emphasized that “Kids should start their environmental education at school”.

Journalist Iftekhar Mahmud said most of the e-wastes are collected informally from the sources, some reusable metals are taken out and the rest are dumped in to open landfills, farming land and in the open water bodies. In Bangladesh 60 to 70 percent of electric product are assembled in our country so all the industry must take responsibility for when the product gets expired.

Joint Secretary of BAPA Mihir Biswas added that the digital technologies have created scope of an inclusive digital economy as well as achieving the flagship ambition of the SDGs, yet there are many challenges. The major challenge is the management of e-waste that is piling-up day by day.

Speakers demanded an integrated collaboration of policy formulation and intervention, community awareness, effective waste management system, evidence creation and recycling of e-waste through public private partnership participation.