Plastic bag emerges as a new export product
Doulot Akter Mala
The woven plastic bag has emerged as a fast-growing new export product, fetching a sizeable amount of export earnings and helping to diversify the country’s export basket.
Recently, the product has gained a wide popularity across the world for its durability, hygienic quality and reasonable price.
A number of local industries have invested billions of takas for production of the bag after they found its vast export potential.
As many as 60 industries have grown up in the last five years with an estimated investment of Tk 15 billion that are making woven sacks for local use as well as for the export market, industry insiders said.
“In the last two months, we have received orders for 4.0 million pieces of sacks from Indian business conglomerate, Birla, and Lafarge cement companies,” said first Vice-President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), Mr Jashim Uddin.
Mr Jashim, who is the owner of the country’s largest plastic goods industry Bengal Plastic, said the bag is available at a reasonable price and it is also suitable for carrying food grains.
The bag is widely used for carrying cement, fertiliser, rice and other food grains, he said.
Mr. Jashim is also the former president of Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA).
The woven plastic sack comprises 50 per cent of the Tk 7.0 billion direct export earning from plastic goods, he said.
BPGMEA President Mr. Shahedul Islam said the woven sack is a successful example of export diversification.
It has gained tremendous popularity both at home and abroad, he said.
The plastic bag is considered a threat to jute promotion but due to its cheaper price it has become more acceptable to the users than jute bag, he added.
Mr Jashim said the government is preparing a law to discourage use of plastic bags and encourage use of jute bags.
“I am not against the jute promotion initiatives. Jute can be used for different other products, not only for bags,” he said.
A woven plastic sack is available at Tk 12 while a jute bag of the same size costs Tk 70-80, he said.
Referring to a discussion at a recent meeting on encouraging use of jute bags for fertiliser distributed by Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC), Mr. Jashim said the government found that it would have to provide Tk 3.0 billion as subsidies to introduce jute bags, instead of plastic ones.
Prices of food grains will also jump if jute bags are used and this will cause an additional pressure on consumers who are already hit hard by spiralling prices of essentials, he said.
He said the government should sit with the businesses for fixing policies relating to uses of jute, instead of that of plastic.