Shipment term

Waste no more: Soon the first solid tannery expedition

A local company is about to export the solid waste generated in the Savar Tannery Industrial Zone (STIE), an initiative that could lead the way in limiting the dumping of polluting materials in open yards and reducing risks of environmental pollution.

If it goes as planned, it would be the first shipment of tannery solid waste from Bangladesh.

Anjuman Trading Corporation Ltd has received permission from the Ministry of Commerce to export 200 tonnes of solid waste and will ship 20 tonnes by the end of this month or early next month, its managing director Shaheen Ahamed said.

The first batch would be sent to a Cambodian company and the export would bring in $300 per ton.

The Cambodian company is expected to purchase 200 tonnes of tannery solid waste per month from Bangladesh.

Products such as animal feed, biogas, gelatin, glue, compost fertilizer and leather fiberboard can be produced from tannery solid waste.

Members of the Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) are in talks with other companies in Vietnam and Indonesia to export tannery waste. Several local companies interested in transporting solid waste have recently applied to the Ministry of Commerce.

Approximately 64,000 tonnes of tannery solid waste is generated annually at the STIE. The amount is increasing day by day.

Mizanur Rahman, Vice Chairman of BTA and Executive Director of Samata Leather Complex Ltd, said commercial gains can be made from the export of solid waste.

“Environmental pollution will also be avoided,” he said, adding that the export would provide a solution to the problem of solid waste management.

Some 154 tanneries have moved their Hazaribagh factories from the capital to the estate, which began operations in 2017 after a project launched in 2003.
The cost of the project was Tk 1,079 crore.

BTA General Secretary Shakawat Ullah said, “Every scrap leather is recycled. Hopefully we will continue our business with the Cambodian company as we can supply them as per their demand.”

Satyendra Nath Paul, Chief Engineer of Dhaka Tannery Industrial Estate Waste Treatment Plant Company, said, “It is good news that solid waste export opportunities have been created. All kinds of cooperation will be provided to BTA from our side.

Bangladesh will have to rely on exports to get rid of the solid waste generated at the STIE since it has no facilities to recycle it. This forced the tanneries to dump them in the open yard located on the bank of the Dhaleshwari, threatening to cause environmental pollution and pollute the river.

The STIE effluent treatment plant is used to treat liquid waste. Approximately 25,000 tonnes of liquid waste are generated there annually.

Local residents have praised the development since the creation of the estate created various problems.

“If the export market is big, it would be good for us because our environment won’t be polluted,” said a resident.

Sharif Jamil, Secretary General of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, a platform of environmentalists, also welcomed the decision to export.

He added, however, “It would have been better if the solid waste could be recycled locally and various products could be made from it.”

The environmentalist said how solid waste management would be done should have been in the STIE project plan.

“But unfortunately it wasn’t there. As a result, solid waste is left out in the open which pollutes the air.”

An Italian company, Ilsa SPA, had offered to manage solid waste in order to recycle it into biogas and fertilizer, as part of a joint venture with a local company.

Under this plan, a solid waste management plant was to be built in Gazipur. But the proposal did not see the light of day because it did not meet the expectations of the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation, owner of the STIE, a senior official said earlier.

In most countries, solid waste management operations are generally a local responsibility, and nearly 70% of countries have established institutions responsible for policy development and regulatory oversight in the waste sector. , according to the World Bank.

Shaheen Ahamed, however, said, “If you want to recycle solid waste and make products out of it in Bangladesh, you’ll have to come up with a million dollar project.”

“As we were unable to attract a foreign investor for this type of project, we were unable to set up a factory to produce products from solid waste.”

“But if money is made by exporting solid waste, that’s fine,” he told the Daily Star.

The global solid waste management market size was $285 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $366 billion by 2027, said Fortune Business Insights, an Indian market research firm.