Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Since the 2017 influx of Rohingya refugees into the country, the population density in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp and the two sub-districts of Cox’s Bazar of Ukhiya and Teknaf Upazilas, has been increasingly high. According to UNHCR, 900,000 Rohingya refugees are currently residing in Cox’s Bazar, and with such high numbers, waste management has become increasingly more challenging.

Cox’s Bazar hosts 33 camps in total.  Without a safe, controlled, and adequate waste management system, a public health risk for the host communities and refugees can emerge. Potential risks include disease vectors from solid waste and blockage of drainage systems, greenhouse gas emissions of toxic gases from waste burning, air and ground pollution, and contamination of food and water sources.  Cox’s Bazar is located along one of the longest coastlines in the world, and with such a growing packaging and waste problem, much of the discarded packaging ends up in watersheds and eventually in the ocean.

The Logistics Sector is part of the Inter Sector Solid Waste Management (SWM) Group (coordinated by the WASH Sector and co-chaired by the Energy and Environment Technical Working Group and UNDP. As part of the Inter-Sector SWM Group, the Logistics Sector in Cox’s Bazar assessed the status of logistics services in relation to SWM. The main goal, in line with the WFP Bangladesh Country Strategy, is to improve resource utilisation and reduce the environmental impact of waste generated by humanitarian activities through the promotion of  ‘green’ environmental practices in humanitarian logistics.

In October 2021, the Logistic Sector drafted an operational plan to guide the green logistics actions of partners. The main components of the operational plan include waste avoidance/waste reduction, the establishment of an environmental impact focused on an SWM system, community acceptance, source segregation of waste, reuse and recycling, and disposal of residual waste in sanitary landfills.    

In January 2022, the Logistics Sector also conducted a follow-up situational analysis by engaging partners with a Solid Waste Questionnaire to collect data on types of supplies and waste generated, and the availability of waste disposal systems. It also provided partners with the opportunity to share innovative ideas to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste. Eighteen organisations participated in the questionnaire and, according to the findings:

  • 71 percent of the supplies are non-food items (NFIs);
  • 76 percent of the waste is plastics, followed by medicines (47 percent) and polypropylene/woven bags (46 percent);
  • Almost half of the organisations do not have a system for waste disposal (44 percent) in place;
  • 78 percent of the respondents are not aware of any existing waste disposal centres in Cox’s Bazar district.

Following the results of the survey, the Logistics Sector arranged warehouse visits with the Inter-Sector SWM Group in February 2022 to provide a thorough understanding of the solid waste situation in supply chain/logistics operations, to provide guidance (best practices, contact details of scrap dealers, landfill locations, waste treatment facilities), and to reduce the amount of waste through the maximization of recycling, reuse, limited packaging, etc.

Key findings and recommendations from the warehouse visits were also discussed during the recent Logistics Sector Coordination meeting in February 2022.

The efforts in promoting a ‘Green Logistics’ continue, and are highlighted in the Bangladesh Logistics Sector 2022 Strategy which identifies its plan to pool resources and share assets between humanitarian agencies for a better use of capacities, cost-effectiveness, and reduction of environmental impacts.

A Technical Working Group within the Logistics Sector will be established to provide and share technical guidance and best practices on green logistics for the mitigation of the environmental impact of the response.  The Logistics Sector in Bangladesh is also working with the Global Logistics Cluster’s WREC Project Team to share information and resources with the wider humanitarian community.

If you wish to know more about Green Logistics, visit the page dedicated to the Logistics Cluster Waste Management And Measuring, Reverse Logistics, Environmentally Sustainable Procurement and Transport, and Circular Economy (WREC) Project here.