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Bangladesh Invents Plastic Bag Alternative; Launches Green Throw-Away Bags

Bangladesh was one of the first countries to ban the use of plastic and polythene bags, in 2002

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A Bangladeshi scientist has found a way to turn jute - shown being used as a tent - into low-cost biodegradable cellulose sheets that can be made into greener throw-away bags that look and feel much like plastic ones. VOA

As countries around the world try to cut down on throw-away plastic shopping bags, Bangladesh is hoping to cash in on an alternative: plastic-like bags made from jute, the plant fiber used to produce burlap bags.

Bangladesh is the world’s second biggest producer of jute after India, though the so-called “golden fiber” — named for its color and its once-high price — has lost its sheen as demand has fallen.

Now, however, a Bangladeshi scientist has found a way to turn the fiber into low-cost biodegradable cellulose sheets that can be made into greener throw-away bags that look and feel much like plastic ones.

“The physical properties are quite similar,” said Mubarak Ahmad Khan, a scientific adviser to the state-run Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) and leader of the team that developed the new ‘sonali’ — the Bengali word for golden — bags. He said the sacks are biodegradable after three months buried in soil, and can also be recycled.

Bangladesh is now producing 2,000 of the bags a day on an experimental basis, but plans to scale up commercial production after signing an agreement last October with the British arm of a Japanese green packaging firm.

bangladesh, green throw-away bags, plastic bags
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Wikimedia Commons

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in March urged those working on the project “to help expedite the wider usage of the golden” bags for both economic and environmental gains. In April, the government approved about $900,000 in funding from Bangladesh’s own climate change trust fund to help pave the way for large-scale production of the bags.

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

Big demand

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 — though 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.

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

plastic bags, green throw-away bags
Bangladesh was one of the first countries to ban the use of plastic and polythene bags, in 2002. Wikimedia Commons

Khan said that if all the jute produced in Bangladesh went to make the sacks, the country was still likely to be able to meet just a third of expected demand.

While Bangladesh’s own plastic bag ban is now almost two decades old, million of the bags are still used each year in the South Asian country because of a lack of available alternatives and limited enforcement, officials said.

ALSO READ: UN Organizations Announce “Clean Air Initiative”; Urge Governments Participation

About 410 million polythene bags are used in the capital Dhaka each month, the 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, a former deputy director general of the Department of Environment. “As jute polymer bags are totally biodegradable and decomposable, it will help check pollution,” he said. (VOA)

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Huawei all set for 5G Technical Support in Bangladesh: Report

The Minister said that facing the challenges of the digital new world, they were taking all the initiatives including the design to run 5G technology

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FILE - A man uses his smartphone outside of a shop selling Huawei products at a shopping mall in Beijing, May 29, 2019. VOA

China’s telecommunication giant Huawei is all set to facilitate Bangladesh with technical support in the implementation of 5G technology, an official statement said here on Saturday.

According to the statement, Huawei’s Senior Vice President Bruce Li talked about their readiness to help Bangladesh launch 5G when meeting Bangladeshi Post and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar recently in Dhaka, reports Xinhua news agency.

They also discussed and exchanged opinions about different issues of 5G technology including the challenges and possibilities.

Li said Bangladesh’s progress in the ICT sector was remarkable, and that 40 telecoms operators in over 20 countries are using 5G networks commercially.

huawei
FILE – A man uses two smartphones at once outside a Huawei store in Beijing, May 20, 2019. VOA

According to the statement, Huawei has already signed more than 60 commercial contracts for 5G with leading global carriers and shipped more than 400,000 5G Massive MIMO active antenna units (AAUs) to global markets.

Also Read: Tesla CEO Elon Musk Looking into Launching a ‘Drive-thru Mode’ on Tesla

The production and supply of Huawei’s optical transmission, data communications, and IT products grew steadily. And more than 700 cities, 228 Fortune Global 500 companies, and 58 Fortune Global 100 companies had selected Huawei as their partner for digital transformation, the statement said.

The Minister said that facing the challenges of the digital new world, they were taking all the initiatives including the design to run 5G technology. (IANS)