Statement by H.E. Masud Bin Momen, Foreign Secretary of the Government of Bangladesh at the High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on ‘The Role of Zero Waste as a Transformative Solution in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’, 30 March 2023, General Assembly Hall, UNHQ

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

I thank the President of the General Assembly to convene the High-Level Meeting on the role of zero waste as a transformative solution in achieving sustainable development goals.

I also commend the Republic of Turkiye for promoting the Zero Waste Initiatives, through a UN Resolution which Bangladesh was proud to cosponsor.

This high-level meeting is taking place at a critical time when the world is grappling with multiple, interlinked crises with serious bearings on sustainable development goals.

As cities grow and the global population expands, billions of tons of waste are produced each day.

The figures are staggering.

Today, 2.24 billion tons of municipal solid waste are generated annually, which could rise to 3.88 billion tons per year by 2050. Around 931 million tons of food is wasted each year, and up to 37 million tons of plastic waste is expected to enter the ocean annually by 2040. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened plastic pollution everywhere.

Waste generation and unsustainable disposal are major causes of environmental pollution and biodiversity loss, driving climate change.

We must make bold, collective commitments to zero-waste initiatives.


Mr. President,

As a way forward, allow me to make a few specific points:

First, addressing the underlying causes of unsustainable consumption and production patterns that contribute to increasing amounts of waste generation must be a priority. This can be achieved by improving waste management infrastructure and building smart cities, urban resilience, green/smart mobility network, and the circular economy.


Second, the journey towards zero waste involves significant investment in waste disposal infrastructure.  In big cities, the absence of sustainable waste disposal facilities remains a major source of food and water contamination, health hazard and pollution.  Estimates suggest that every 1 kilogram of food waste disposed of in dumpsites and landfills not only pollutes the soil and underground water but has the same climate impact as burning 1 liter of petrol.

To address this, we need international support for interventions that include the development of sanitary landfills, the transition to environment-friendly recycling and disposal systems, the introduction of waste-segregation frameworks, restricting single-use items, and phasing out non-recyclable materials.

In 2002, Bangladesh became the world’s first country to ban plastic shopping bags. The Jute Packaging Act 2010 for six essential items (paddy, rice, wheat, maize, fertilizer, sugar) promoted an alternative to plastic packaging. In 2020, a High Court directed concerned authorities to ban Single-Use Plastic in coastal areas and all hotels and motels across the country. The government of Bangladesh is committed to progressively taking steps in curbing plastic pollution.

Third, sustainability should underpin all consumption and production approaches, guided by the circular use of goods and services produced, adopting a 3R strategy: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. This will help reduce carbon footprint, avoid the generation of unnecessary waste, minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and prevent environmental degradation.

Finally, Mr. President, each person, and each entity must be an agent of change. We hardly realize that our lifestyle is massively polluting the environment every moment. As per UNEP estimate, globally one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, and 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are thrown away each year.  Education, awareness raising and behavioral change communication about zero-waste initiatives and their contribution to achieving sustainable development can play an important role in achieving our shared zero-waste objective.

I thank you.