Bangladesh has the potential to transform organic waste into compost and biogas for electricity generation and fuel for household use, said an expert yesterday.
“Promoting a simple low-cost technology and formulation of appropriate policy can be helpful in turning the waste into wealth,” said Md Saleh Ahmed, a post-harvest and food waste management expert.
Metropolitan areas, especially Dhaka, are facing serious environmental challenges due to indiscriminate waste disposal in public spaces, which remains uncollected, he said.
“Public health is at risk,” Ahmed said while delivering a keynote speech at a discussion styled 'Food waste to wealth: current practice, challenges and opportunities'.
The Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (Cirdap) organised the event on its premises in the capital on the occasion of its 39th founding anniversary.
Although the city corporation is responsible for collecting and managing the waste, a significant amount remains uncollected due to a lack of infrastructure, funds and vehicles.
The other reasons for poor collection of waste in Dhaka are: rapid growth of industries, absence of proper policy, improper use of technology, said Ahmed, who is also the chairman of Kernel Group of Companies.
The current waste collection efficiency in different urban areas or Bangladesh varies from 37 percent to 77 percent with an average of 55 percent.
Solid waste disposal poses a greater problem because it leads to land pollution if openly dumped, water pollution if dumped in low lands and air pollution if burnt, Ahmed said.
“Most of the people throw away waste anywhere they want,” said Mohammad Abdur Razzak, chief waste management officer of Dhaka North City Corporation.
When people throw waste into drains, the pile of waste clogs the system, which in turn causes public suffering.
The habit of indiscriminately dumping wastes contaminates water resources too, he added.
AH Maqsood Sinha, co-founder and executive director of Waste Concern, and Nur Mohammad Khondaker, assistant representative of the Bangladesh office of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, also spoke.
In another session, Ramasamy Elango, managing trustee of the Trust for Village Self Governance at Kuthambakkam village in Tamil Nadu in India, gave a keynote speech on the sustainable smart village model.