Unilever Bangladesh Limited (UBL), the country’s leading Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) company, and Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA), jointly organised a national seminar titled ‘Innovation for Plastic Circularity’ today in the presence of distinguished guests at the Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden in Dhaka.
Dr. Colin Kerr, Head of Packaging Excellence and Technology, Unilever; presented his keynote presentation on ‘Innovation and Inspiration in Packaging for Holistic Plastic Circularity’, where he illustrated the innovations that Unilever has adopted in packaging globally to ensure environmentally friendly packaging. The seminar also featured two panel discussions: the first, titled ‘Importance of Innovative Design for Plastic Circularity,’ moderated by Dr. Zaki Uz Zaman, Country Representative of United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the following panellists; Ruhul Quddus Khan, Supply Chain Director, UBL; Amir Daud, COO, Bengal Group; Anisur Rahman, Director, Premiaflex Plastics; M Hossain Iraz, Director, Operations, Akij Bashir Group; and R N Paul, Managing Director, Pran-RFL Group. The second, titled ‘Importance of Innovation in Collection and Recycling for Plastic Circularity,’ was moderated by Ms. Shamima Akhter, Director–Corporate Affairs, Partnerships, and Communications at UBL, with panelists including Dr. Ijaz Hossain, Ex-Professor and Dean of Faculty of Engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Matt Demorais, Head of Corporate Affairs and Issues, Unilever; Sheikh Mohammad Tauhidul Islam, Chief Executive Officer, Chattogram City Corporation, KM Iqbal Hossain, Vice President, BPGMEA, and Mohammad Kamrul Hasan, Executive Director, TEL Plastics, RFL Group.
Mr. Muhammad Abdul Mannan, MP, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Planning, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, was present at the seminar as the Chief Guest. Also present in the seminar as Special Guests were Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury, MP, Honourable Chairman, Parliamentary, Standing Committee on Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change; Dr. Fahmida Khanom, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; and Mr. Md. Amin Helaly, Vice President, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI). An exhibition titled ‘Innovative Material and Packaging’, showcased the innovation in producing and recycling plastic products and packaging from local organisations and UBL, was inaugurated by the Chief Guest and the Special Guests during the seminar.
Muhammad Abdul Mannan, MP, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Planning, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, said, “Today’s exhibition titled ‘Innovative Materials and Packaging’ gave us the opportunity to see innovations in plastic packaging closely. The seminar, jointly initiated by UBL and BPGMEA is undoubtedly commendable. The government remains vigilant concerning the country’s business landscape, while our primary objective is the overall development of the nation. It is not possible to ensure a good life for the people of Bangladesh, without ensuring development by addressing issues regarding not only plastic pollution, but all sorts of pollution. It is important to ensure that businesses can operate in a peaceful and stable environment. We are committed to supporting industry for a circular economy.”
Saber Hossain Chowdhury, MP, Honourable Chairman, Parliamentary, Standing Committee on Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, said, “Our previous model of using natural resources was linear. A resource was taken from the environment, used and finally thrown back into the environment. However, as the awareness on the importance of proper waste management has increased, there is a need for the circular model. Earlier, we were an export-oriented nation. But by the day, we are becoming a consumer nation. As a result, when we become a trillion-dollar economy 12 to 13 years from now, the level of environmental pollution, especially plastic pollution, will increase manifold. And if this problem cannot be solved, sustainable development in the country will not be possible. Plastic pollution doesn’t just harm the environment; it also endangers public health. When plastic waste gets into the water bodies, it is consumed by the fish as well. Eating these fishes, results in ingestion of microplastics and therefore threatens public health. Proper management of plastic waste is necessary to protect the health of the citizens. However, in case of plastic pollution, the key solution will be to reduce mismanagement of plastic waste. Coordination between producers and the country’s policymakers will play a vital role in this. I invite Dr. Colin Kerr, Head of Unilever’s Packaging Excellence and Technology, to establish an innovation hub in Bangladesh.”
Dr. Colin Kerr, Global Head of Packaging Excellence and Technology, Unilever, said, “Unilever is globally implementing its Golden Packaging Rule and digital models for innovative plastic packaging. Both rigid packaging and flexible packaging play an important role in providing the product to consumers. But they also leave a plastic footprint which Unilever is committed to reduce through time-bound actions. Our holistic aim to achieve ‘less, better and no plastic’ framework is reflected in our commitment to innovate plastic packaging designs. Unilever Bangladesh has already successfully implemented new approaches to reduce plastic packaging. For example, Lifebuoy and Vim Bar packaging use 18% and 30% less plastic, respectively. For the transition to better plastic usage, our pioneering move to use food-grade recycled polypropylene in packaging has inspired others. As we continue exploring alternate materials, reusing and refilling strategies are bringing us closer to our goal. While Unilever Bangladesh’s recycling of the plastic it produces is a great achievement, we can only do so much as a company. With industry-wide involvement, we can enable an infrastructural development in the value chain of plastic packaging innovations.”
Zaved Akhtar, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD) of Unilever Bangladesh, said, “We all have a responsibility towards the planet. As part of Unilever’s global push for innovation in plastic packaging and a waste-free planet, Unilever Bangladesh is actively adopting innovations in how our products are packaged. Through innovative packaging and effective waste management implementation, UBL aims to optimise plastic’s many benefits. There is still a lot to do to ensure plastic circularity, and we cannot do it alone. The government and businesses need to work collaboratively to achieve Bangladesh’s Vision 2041. I extend my gratitude to MA Mannan, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Planning, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, our special guests, panellists and BPGMEA for sharing their valuable insights.”
Amin Helaly, Vice-president, FBCCI, said, “We need to work together for the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s vision for Bangladesh by 2041. We need to adopt a 10-year plan regarding a circular economy. Moreover, future generations should be educated about plastic waste management. If the future Bangladesh wants a sustainable economy, the education system should be changed. We need a database to understand the real situation of plastic waste. There is a need for accurate information on what plastic is contributing domestically and abroad. We also need to make a global presence through our local initiatives. For this, support from the Government for policy-level changes is important.”
Shamim Ahmed, President, BPGMEA, said, “The need for plastics has increased exponentially to maintain product quality, but proper waste management is also essential. I request the ministries concerned and the Government to ensure adequate support for the industry. As Per Capita Income is increasing in Bangladesh, the use of plastic is also increasing. As a result, the process of waste collection is gradually becoming a bigger challenge. We don’t want our environment to be degraded by plastic or our future generations to be harmed by plastic. Therefore, emphasis on infrastructural investment and strategic solutions is very important. I am especially grateful to Unilever Bangladesh for their support that is helping all of us achieve a circular economy.”