To mark the World Environment Day, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) on Monday called for better management of plastics in agriculture food systems.
This pressing issue was the focus of a panel discussion held at the Military Institute of Science and Technology (MIST). Academia, researchers, government officials, business leaders, and youth representatives took part in the event.
Over the last 70 years, use of plastics in agri-food systems and food value chains has become pervasive. Low-cost and adaptable plastic products have crept into every part of food systems, said a statement.
While they can increase productivity and efficiency in all agricultural sectors and help minimise food loss and waste and plastics are a major source of contamination, it added.
Their widespread and long-term use, coupled with lack of systematic collection and sustainable management, leads to their accumulation in soils and aquatic environments.
#BeatPlasticPollution, the official theme for the World Environment Day 2023, serves as a reminder that our actions regarding plastic pollution have significant consequences.
Four hundred million tonnes of plastic are produced annually, with half designed for single-use purposes. Most agricultural plastic products are single-use and can persist in the environment long after their intended use.
Degrading into micro-plastics, they can transfer and accumulate in food chains, threatening food security, food safety, and potentially human health.
The discussion was organised by FAO’s Pesticide Risk Reduction project in partnership with MIST and Department of Environmental, Water Resources, and Coastal Engineering.
Nur Ahamed Khondaker, Assistant FAO Representative (Programme), who was guest of honour, said: “This is a challenge globally, not only Bangladesh, but we must recognise what a big problem this is and take action towards better management of plastics in agriculture food systems, particularly in regard to plastics waste management.”