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Bangladesh plastics industry to hit US$ 4 billion by 2020

Bangladesh – Bangladesh could emerge as a global player in the plastics industry by hiking its annual turnover to US$ 2 billion by 2015 and US$ 4 billion by 2020, according to a study conducted by the United Nations’€™ Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

But according to its report, the country must address three issues as a priority: infrastructural support; waste management and recycling facilities; and skills development. And it urges the Bangladeshi government to set up a separate economic zone for the plastics industry, offering benefits such as uninterrupted power.

Plastics-based products currently represent a sizeable sub-sector of the country’€™s chemicals industry: current market size is around US$ 1 billion, with US$ 714 million pertaining to the domestic and the remainder to the global market. The plastics sector boasts around 3000 manufacturing units employing a total of more than 2 million people either directly or indirectly.

The report also identifies Bangladesh as one of the world’€™s lowest plastics consuming countries. ‘€˜Per capita consumption of plastics and plastics-based products in Bangladesh is estimated at 2 kg annually against the global average at 80 kg,’€™ it states. Domestic consumption is expected to rise as the economy develops.

Meanwhile, plastics recycling has developed into a sizeable component of the plastics industry, with major recycling centres operating in and around the capital city Dhaka, according to the UN report. Around 300 small facilities are recycling some 138 tonnes of plastic wastes each day; availability of river water and low transportation costs have made these units economically attractive.

According to the UN report, plastic products are used in various applications such as packaging, construction, pharmaceuticals, garbage bags, toothbrushes, artificial flowers, ballpoint pens, PVC pipes, polythene sheets, electric switches and computer accessories. But although the plastics industry in Bangladesh has made remarkable progress over recent years, it continues to lack a well-designed strategy for achieving long-term and sustainable growth, argues the report. It also suggests the government should ensure the consistency and direction of policy.

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