Jute packaging law remains ineffective

The Mandatory Jute Packaging Act 2010 that made the use of jute bags in packing food stuff and farm produces mandatory to help the jute millers and growers could not be enforced properly even after five years of its enactment.

Enacted in 2010, the rules of the law were formulated by Textiles and Jute Ministry in 2013 that clearly mentioned that all the traders as well as the government jute goodsorganisations concerned should use jute bags while packing trading paddy, pulses, wheat, fertilizer and sugar, reports UNB.

However, traders and millers continued ignoring the law in the absence of enforcement.

Director (marketing) of the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) Babul Chandra Ray said they along with the Jute Directorate estimated that about 80 crore jute bags of different sizes will be needed in the current fiscal year if the traders and government organisations concerned fully use jute bags in the marketing of the foodstuffs and fertilizers as per the law.

“This can revamp the country’s jute mills by creating a huge market for jute bags,” he added.

He said although many government agencies have come under the purview of the law, there has been little of no effort on their part to use jute bags, let alone the private enterprises and businesses.

During a visit to several city markets, this UNB correspondent found that the law is hardly practiced.

Abdul Haque, a trader at Baridhara Notun Bazar Market, told UNB that they are not interested in using jute bags as plastic bags are much cheaper and long-lasting in comparison.

Asked about the present circumstances, State Minister for Textiles and Jute Minister Mirza Azam said all the divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners have been asked to take necessary steps to implement the law.

“We’ve decided to conduct mobile court drives across the country from January last, but we can’t continue this due to the indefinite transport blockade and hartal enforced by the BNP-led 20-party alliance,” he said.

Mirza Azam said the government will conduct the mobile court drives when the country’s current political turmoil is over.

Apart from the six products, he said, the government will take various initiatives to inspire people to use jute bags.

Talking to UNB, BJMC chairman Major (retd) Humayan Khaled said although it was estimated that some 60 crore bags will be needed in the current fiscal if the traders and government agencies concerned abide by the provisions of the law, BJMC had to export some the 15-16 crore jute bags that were produced in the state-owned mills in the fiscal.

He stressed that the government has to run mobile court drives strongly to ensure effective implementation of the law.

The Mandatory Jute Packaging Act 2010 says that the manufacturers will have to use packaging materials made of at least 75 percent jute fibers.

Initially, products such as rice, paddy, wheat, sugar, seeds, fertiliser and saplings are to come under the purview of the law.

As per the provision, the offender will be fined by Tk 50,000 or be jailed for one year, while the second time offenders will face both the punishments.

Jute is considered more durable and environment-friendly than polythene that poses a serious environmental and health risk.