Conversion of bottle wastes into recycled resins can save $25m

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 15 Aug 2017, 22:31:09 | Updated : 15 Aug 2017, 22:32:15
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Conversion of bottle wastes into recycled resins can save $25m

Production of mineral water bottles, polyester yarn
Arafat Ara


The import dependence on basic raw materials for manufacturing mineral water and beverage bottles and polyester yarn can be reduced by more than 30 per cent by converting bottle wastes into recycled resins.

Such conversion can save around US$ 25 million a year, sector insiders said.

Resin is the prime raw material of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottle industries (especially mineral water and beverage industries) and polyester textile sector in the country.

Currently, only one company in the country produces about 5,000 tonnes of recycled resins per year.

The major portion of pet bottle wastes is exported to China as pet flakes.

According to Bangladesh Pet Flakes Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPFMEA), the country exported about 50,000 tonnes of pet flakes worth US$ 25 million (US$ 500 per tonne ) last year.

China produces Polyester Staple Fibre (PSF) and packaging materials from pet wastes.

Bangladesh imports nearly 142,000 tonnes of pet resins worth more than US$ 142 million (minimum price US$ 1,000 per tonne) a year for producing pet bottles and synthetic yarn.

Of the total volume, about 88,000 tonnes are bottle- grade and 54,000 tonne textile-grade resins.

Khadem Mahmud Yusuf, managing director of Bangladesh Petrochemical Company Limited (BPCL), said pet flakes are exported to China without any value addition. Instead of exporting flakes at a low price, it can be converted into resin.

The BPCL produces recycled resins.

"If all available pet flakes are converted into pet resin, Bangladesh can save US$ 25 million foreign currency," said Mr Yusuf, who is also a member of Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA).

The BPCL is now producing more than 400 tonnes of recycled resins from the pet bottle waste per month. At the year-end, production will increase to 700 tonnes, he mentioned.    

The recycled resins are supplied to nearly 40 companies to produce pet bottles and packaging materials, he added.    

"We have a plan to increase our production from 1,500 to 2,000 tonnes each month in future. But there is a shortage of raw materials in his factory," he said

The present policy of the government is to discourage local production of resins.

The Chinese companies get Bangladeshi pet bottle flakes at comparatively cheaper prices than the local companies following 10 per cent cash incentive to the exporters.

The BPFMEA has already sent a letter to the authority to change such discriminatory policy, he mentioned. If the sector gets policy supports from the government, a good number of investors will be encouraged to invest in the industry, Mr Yusuf said.

Fishing nets, different types of plastic brushes, zippers, carpets and food grade containers are also produced from recycled resins, the BPCL MD mentioned.  

Apart from the resin substitute, the local industry is using pet flakes to produce geo-textiles to prevent land erosion or river bank protection

Dird Group and Banjin are producing geo-textiles from pet bottle wastes.

However, China is going to ban import of 24 types of waste materials including plastic wastes, as part of a campaign against 'foreign garbage' and environmental pollution by end of this year.

The country notified the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on July 18 last.

The move will affect pet flakes export from Bangladesh severely, businesses said.

So there is no alternative but to set up mother industries to use the raw materials locally.    

When contacted, BPFMEA senior vice president Tofail Ahmed said it would be a very good initiative if more mother industries are set up for utilising pet flakes in the country.

"We would be able to survive by supplying this product to local market. But at first we have to make a study over local demand for these recycled products," he added.  

He said the quality of Bangladeshi pet flakes is not very high. China mixes the low quality flakes with higher ones imported from Europe and other developed countries to reduce their yarn prices.    

On an average, 4.0 billion pet bottles and jars are produced each year. About 3.40 billion pet bottles are discarded after one-time use yearly.

Nearly 150 small and large pet waste-producing factories are operating in the country, involving nearly 1.0 million people. About 80 per cent of used pet bottles are collected by industries.

    arafat_ara@hotmail.com
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