Dhaka Tribune – The folly of not recycling properly

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14 January 2015 - Environmental guidelines will not work without reform of waste collection system

A new study for the Power Division has found alarming levels of mercury entering water sources and the food chain, caused by the disposal of compact fluorescent lamp bulbs (CFLs).

With use of such bulbs growing rapidly, and with many now being replaced by more efficient LED lights, the study provides new guidelines for their safe disposal and recycling.

However, guidelines will not be enough to tackle the health risks posed, unless they are implemented as part of a nationwide waste disposal and recycling strategy.

The government urgently needs to address the dysfunctional system for waste collection that exists in the country. Cities like Dhaka fail to collect over half the waste they generate each day. Recycling sites are pitifully provided for and are frequently a nuisance, with noxious wastes being tipped out and sorted on public roads.

Without reform, what in some ways is a positive, economic development and the spread of electricity supplies across all parts of the population, threatens to become a health hazard and environmental millstone.

We must make our systems for collecting and treating all types of waste fit for purpose. As a nation which has large pools of labour and a successful ship recycling industry there is no shortage of expertise and resources to draw upon.

As well as ensuring safer facilities for processing toxic materials and bringing in mandatory rules for e-waste recycling, the government needs to boost collection rates.

Successful neighbourhood schemes which have boosted pre-sorting of waste for recycling by consumers, need to be emulated and rolled-out across the country.
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