Unilever, UNDP and NCC join hands to handle the problem of plastic waste in Narayanganj 

Unilever, UNDP and NCC join hands to handle the problem of plastic waste in Narayanganj 

21 August, 2022, 12:25 pm

Last modified: 21 August, 2022, 01:24 pm

She said that they are still facing challenges, but they are getting better every day. “Narayanganj is a good town as a model for us because of the high population density and a greater scope of work. This is a pilot project we hope that we will be able to replicate in other parts of the country,” said Nguyen Thi Ngoc Van, adding “one day Narayanganj will be free of plastic.”

British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson visited the project in Narayanganj recently. He said that plastic pollution is a serious problem around the world. The problem is more serious in Bangladesh because the country is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and per head use of polythene is on the rise.

“I think we have seen here a really interesting partnership between Narayanganj City Corporation under the leadership of [Mayor] Ivy and Unilever, under the leadership of Zaved Akhtar and UNDP as a source of catalysing force,” said Dickson.

“I think what it [the project] shows is how you will have that catalytic effect working with the local community who really wants to make a difference,” Dickson added. Because when the local government, development partners and the community come together, it can make a substantial impact, he added.  

The problem polythene represents is broad and widespread. Plastic means clogging and waterlogging posing a serious environmental problem, according to Dickson.

“So, it is very encouraging. I see a lot more to be done to make this fully, economically effective self-sustaining process,” said Dickson, adding “but I think it is a good start and lots of lessons have been learned from what is going on in Narayanganj.”     

He said that the UK has an ongoing development relationship with Bangladesh, and climate and environment will be a big part of it. And solid waste management remains a prevalent problem everywhere, including Bangladesh.

“So, no doubt that we will be involved in works like this in Bangladesh in future,” said British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson.

Unilever Bangladesh Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Zaved Akhtar said that this is the first time any multinational company took such initiative to reduce the impact of single-use plastics. “Plastic is a blessing in our civilization because it has made our life easy but plastic management has become a challenge, as a result, it has turned into a problem,” said Zaved Akhtar. 

“It is not Unilever’s sole task, we all will have to do it. Unilever has initiated the project because someone has to take the responsibility,” said Akhtar, adding however, “it is such a big problem that it is not possible for one company to solve it. We want to take everyone to the same platform to solve the problem,” said Akhtar.

“If the business is not environmentally-friendly, the business will not sustain. It is a part of our business to safeguard the environment,” Akhtar added. He said that Unilever had to make a big upfront investment to initiate the project and it will make more investments in this regard.

“We are at the beginning of the process, we will not say it is a success [yet]. We will say that we have just started the journey; we are learning, we will have to bring more investment to make it sustainable,” said Akhtar. 

He believes that other businesses should come forward to reduce plastic pollution and protect the environment.

Narayanganj City Corporation’s mayor Selina Hayat Ivy thanked Unilever and UNDP for taking such an initiative to protect the environment from pollution. The mayor said that she started the segregation of plastic waste in 2007. But she could not make it sustainable because the city corporation was suffering from different problems, including a lack of funding.

Photo: TBS

Photo: TBS

Photo: TBS

“Narayanganj does not have a secondary transfer station like Dhaka, as a result, the cleaners have to make a long journey to the landfill to dump the waste,” she said.

53-year-old Sultana Razia, one of the residents in the Don Chamber area, is happy with the initiative of collecting plastic waste in the area and said that the area is now cleaner than before. “The streets look great nowadays because the amount of polythene has decreased to a great extent in my area,” stated Sultana Razia.

The plastic waste pollution is a pressing environmental challenge for Bangladesh. But through collaboration between the government, businesses, non-profits and the consumers, a cleaner and greener Bangladesh is on the horizon.

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