World Bank Contest Brings Creative Solutions to Combat Plastic Pollution in Bangladesh

The World Bank today awarded the four winning teams of the competition titled Plastic Circularity Innovation Challenge. The competition sought innovative solutions to combat plastic pollution in Bangladesh.

“Addressing plastic pollution is a critical development agenda for ensuring green and smart growth. In Dhaka city alone, plastic waste has gone up from 178 tons per day in 2005 to 646 tons per day in 2020,” said Mercy Tembon, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan.

The contest asked for innovative solutions in two categories: i) collection/sorting, recycling of low-valued plastics and single use plastics and ii) digital technology solutions in coping with plastic pollution such as mobile apps.

The three-member panel of judges included Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, Chairman and CEO of PRAN-RFL; Cyrill Gutsch, CEO, Parley for the Oceans, and Marina Tabassum, Founder and Principal Architect of Marina Tabassum Architects. The short-listed teams made presentations today virtually in presence of the judges. Further, to raise awareness on plastic pollution among school children, the event also introduced an animated video.

Congratulating the winners, Tembon added: “We all are very impressed with the creative and practical solutions proposed to beat plastic pollution. The World Bank looks forward to continue working with the Government of Bangladesh, private sector, and civil society groups towards the sustainable management of plastics.”

Since 2019, the World Bank has partnered with the Department of Environment (DoE) and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to organize a series of events on “Sustainable Management of Plastic to Leverage Circular Economy and Achieve SDG in Bangladesh.” This was the fourth event in the series.

“The Government of Bangladesh is committed to reduce pollution and ensure sustainable green growth. We are taking a range of actions to curb pollution and improve waste management,” said Mr. Ziaul Hasan, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change. “It is encouraging to see that our youth are so well plugged into the issue and bringing pragmatic solution to beat plastic pollution.”

The contest was launched in November 2020 and funded by PROBLUE. The winners received 80,000 BDT each. The winners and winning proposals are (in alphabetical order):

Team Amity: ‘Amity’ is formed by two undergraduate engineering students – Farhana Haque, majoring in Civil Engineering and Sadman Fakid, majoring in Chemical Engineering – from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). Their solution is an integrated management of plastic wastes where they present a micro-credit business model addressing unemployment and involving multi-modal approach to plastic waste collection, sorting and recycling.

Team Blues: This team comprised of three Electrical and Electronics Engineering students from North South University – Mahedy Hasan, Sakib Asrar, and Tanvirul Azim – who built an extremely budget-friendly floating-aquatic-waste-cleaning robot made up of readily available cheap materials and with minimal labor. This bot is made of floatable material that will hover on the water to collect the waste materials resulting in cleaning our water bodies.

Team Garbageman: Garbageman Ltd. is an organization founded by Fahim Uddin Shuvo. He presented a ‘Recycling Platform,’ a free incentive-based digital way for environmentally conscious individuals, households, restaurants, and organizations who will donate recyclable waste for recycling and upcycling purpose. The platform will formalize the supply chain of recyclables and create opportunities for green jobs, and conduct research and development to create scope to recycle and upcycle waste.

Team Green Beans: This team comprised of Mohammad Rayed and Asma Arisham both students of Computer Science and Engineering at North South University, and Mahdi Ahmed, a student of Information and Communication Technology at Bangladesh University of Professionals. The team came up with the model ‘Bottle Economy,’ a platform using USSD, a decade-old mobile communication protocol to connect the poor people and scavengers with local recyclers, allowing them to sell plastic wastes directly while limiting the role of intermediaries. It encourages them to recycle plastics by providing monetary incentives.

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