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Sustainable PET bottle recycling Industry: A case study of Bangladesh Petrochemical Company Limited.

Authors: Fatema Khatun, Md. Saiful Islam, Rabeya Gulshan Ara, Mst. Antaz Hena Akhi, Rayhana Akter, Sara Zabeen.

In Bangladesh, about 3,000 tons of plastic waste is generated every day (The Business Standard, 2019). According to the carbon footprint analysis of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles, it is estimated that one 500-milliliter plastic bottle of water has a total carbon footprint equal to 82.8 grams of CO2 (Sciencing, 2018).
Bangladesh Petrochemical Company Limited (BPCL) is the first post-consumer PET recycling bottle plant in Bangladesh, established in 2012 (Dhaka Tribune, 2018). BPCL works on ‘recover and recycle’ business model in which plastic waste is being revived for new use. This case study shows how BPCL can reduce CO2 by recycling PET bottles and at the same time, generate sustainable livelihood.

The objectives of this case study are to describe BPCL’s: a) PET bottle collection and recycling procedure, b) PET bottle recycling amount and potential reduction of CO2 and c) the women employability within this industry. This study demonstrates that a plastic recycling plant can attain sustainable development goals 2030 like SDG 5: Gender Equality, SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth, and SDG 13: Climate action.

The study was conducted at BPCL, Narayanganj (23° 47′ 14″ N and 90° 32′ 8″ E). Seven members of Auritry Foundation visited BPCL on 1st January 2022. Auritry works towards reduced plastic pollution by raising awareness among public and by trying to find ways to reduce and recycle plastics (Saikat, 2022).
Auritry members collected data based on the field visit of recycling process, presentation on BPCL, questionnaires to the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and drawing evidences from existing literature on the topic.

BPCL is producing 6500 tons of PET resin annually, using three Extrusion lines. The products of BPCL are PET flakes, rPET Resin, PET Sheet, and PET forming products. BPCL has one washing line for producing PET flakes with an annual production capacity of 10,000 tons, one line for producing PET sheet with production capacity of 1500 tons, and three forming lines to produce about 500 tons of PET forming products. Annually, BPCL’s service is currently saving 93,000 cubic metres of landfill space and preventing 15,000 PET bottles from entering the landfill (Dhaka Tribune, 2018). By employing this process, BPCL PET bottle recycling industry is potentially reducing 26,910 tons of CO2 emission.
One chemical Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) is there to treat its washing water to prevent environmental pollution. BPCL is certified by Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and Global Recycle Standard (GRS).
We also found that approximately three hundred staff work at BPCL, with a potential of increasing further women employment.

Bangladesh spends $225 million a year on the import of more than 140,000 tons of PET resin. BPCL supplies about 10,500 tons recycled PET resin, saving Bangladesh $10 million in imports (Dhaka Tribune, 2018). BPCL PET bottle recycle plant follows an eco-friendly, sustainable model that requires scalability to fight plastic pollution.

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