Alexa Plastic bags from jute coming to market soon  

Dhaka, Thursday   19 September 2019

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Plastic bags from jute coming to market soon  

 News Desk  daily-bangladesh.com

 Published: 04:03 PM, 24 July 2019  

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When countries around the world are slowly declining to use plastic shopping bags, Bangladesh is thinking of doing something different. For example — plastic bags from jute. 

Bangladesh is the second-largest jute producing country in the world. Bangladesh’s position after India. But the demand for jute, known as ‘Golden Fibre’ — for its color and its once-high price — has lost its sheen as demand has fallen. 

But scientists in Bangladesh have recently discovered a new method by which plastic products can be made from jute at a very affordable cost. And one of the biggest benefits is that these bags are environmentally friendly.

“The physical properties of original plastic bags and our ready-made bags are almost similar,” said Mubarak Ahmad Khan, a scientific adviser to the state-run Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation and team leader of the plastic bag manufacturer from Jute.  

“The newly discovered sacks are biodegradable after three months buried in soil and can also be recycled,” he added. 

Currently, these bags are being manufactured in Bangladesh for an average of 2,000 daily. However, due to the signing a contract with an eco-friendly Japanese company in October, it will soon be produced in a much larger commercial range.

In a declaration in March this year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called on everyone to use the newly discovered bags to help expedite the wider usage of the golden bags for both economic and environmental gains

The Bangladesh government has invested Tk 7.5 million in this project to produce this bag in a large-scale. 

“Once the project is in full swing, we hope to be able to produce the sonali bag commercially within six months,” said  Mamnur Rashid, the general manager of the BJMC.

Bangladesh was one of the first countries to ban the use of plastic and polythene bags, in 2002, in an effort to stop them collecting in waterways and on land — through the ban has had little success.

Today more than 60 countries - from China to France - have outlawed the bags in at least some regions or cities, Khan said.

As the bans widen, more than 100 Bangladeshi and international firms are looking into using the new jute-based shopping sacks, Khan said.

“Every day I am receiving emails or phone calls from buyers from different countries,” he said, including Britain, Australia, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and France.

Commercial production is expected to start near the end of the year, said Rashid of the BJMC.

“The bag is likely to have huge demand around the world,” said Sabuj Hossain, director of Dhaka-based export firm Eco Bangla Jute Limited.

He said his company hopes eventually to export 10 million of the bags each month.

About 410 million polythene bags are used in the capital Dhaka each month, according to government estimates, and in some waterways such as the Buriganga River a three-meter-deep layer of discarded bags has built up.

“The new bags should help ease the problem,” said Quazi Sarwar Imtiaz Hashmi, former deputy director-general of the Department of Environment ‍adding, “As jute polymer bags are totally biodegradable and decomposable, it will help check pollution.”

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

DailyBangladesh/Adnan