The plastic industry is emerging as a vital industrial sector in Bangladesh since the last two decades. Though per capita consumption of plastics and plastic based products is still small in Bangladesh compared to universal average consumption yet the huge possibilities in the global market remain unexplored. The growth of the plastics industry has a multiplier effect on several important sectors of the Bangladesh economy and thus Bangladesh Government has decided to include plastic sector as one of the vibrant sectors of the country.


The plastic industry is moderately new compared with the textile and leather industries. The industry began its voyage as a small industry in 1960’s. The industry enjoyed an important growth with the introduction of injection and film grade machines in early 80’s. After 1990’s the plastics industry experienced a rapid growth due to introduction of free market economy. Recently, the government of Bangladesh has set a goal to export plastic goods worth of $60.80 million in the fiscal year 2016-17. At present, there are 3000 plastic manufacturing units, more than 95% of which belong to SME Industries (Small and Medium Enterprises). Present domestic market size is Tk. 7,000 crore. The plastic sector provides employment of half a million people and constitutes 1.0 percent of the national GDP.

Total Employment in Plastics Sector
Categories of Workforce Average no of workers per factory Estimated no of worker /people
Working in small factories 50 175,500
Working in medium factories 300 444,000
Working in large factories 500 10,000
Indirectly employed 200,000
Dependents of workers 400,000
Total (Approximately) 1.23 million
Source: BPGMEA


Some of the milestones of the development of plastic industries are listed in Table-1. Since early 1990’s the plastic industry witnessed rapid growth due to introduction of free market economy.

Year Technology and Products
1960 Small products such as toys, bangles arid photo frame were made using handmade molds. Plastic spare parts for jute mills.
1970 Automatic machines were installed to manufacture household utensils such as plastic jugs and plate
1980 Film blowing machines to manufacture plastic bags
1991 Plastic accessories especially hangers far exportable garments
2000,s Molded plastic chairs and tables. Water tank made by rotation molding. Locally developed machines (shredder, extruder. pelletizer) for recycling plastic wastes.


At Present Plastic Consumption is a measure of per capita GDP in a country, Figure 1. From this figure it can be seen that per capita consumption of plastics in Bangladesh lags behind China and India.

Plastic products produced in Bangladesh are being exported hi Iwo forms- direct export of plastic products and deemed export of plastic products as accessories of apparel products. Bangladesh’s main competitors in top 5 export products include both developed and developing Countries

Financial Year Million US $
2003-2004 22.0
2004-2005 38.8
2005-2006 44.4
2006-2007 48.0
2007-2008 54.1
2008-2009 52.3
2009-2010 50.6
2010-2011 68.7
2011-2012 84.5
2012-2013 84.7
2013-2014 85.7
2014-2015 92.1


Value Chain Dynamics

Market Size Potential

If we look back in 1990 the consumption of plastics in Bangladesh was 15,000 tonnes. It took 20 years to reach The 750,000 tonnes an increase of 50 times. At present the per capita consumption of plastics in Bangladesh is 5 kg/ year as compared to world average of 20 kg. Thus, there is a huge potential for the growth of plastic industry in the country.

Bangladesh Bank Incentives

  • The Bangladesh Bank has doubled the loan limit for plastic industries from the Export Development Fund (EDF). All member units of the Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BPGMEA) can now take maximum USD 1 million as loan. The central bank increased the fund to USD 1.5 billion to further assist the country’s export sector. Exporters are given loans from here with special interests. The interest rate now is 2.50% more from that of London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). The rate therefore stays within 3%, according to Bangladesh Bank.
  • Bangladesh Bank also allows some large private companies to avail loan from foreign sources. In 2009, RFL Plastic Limited got the nod of Bangladesh Bank on USD 15 million borrowing from external sources. This will help the local companies to avail financing at a cheaper rate.
  • Bangladesh Bank signed a deal with 32 banks and financial institutions to disburse money from its BDT 100 crore refinancing fund to the startup business. New entrepreneurs can take up to BDT 10 lakh as collateral-free loans at maximum 10 % interest rate under a new initiative by the central bank. However, with collateral an entrepreneur can avail up to BDT 25 lakh as loan from banks under the fund.

Prospects of plastic industry in Bangladesh

The plastics industry in Bangladesh has good potential in both domestic market and global markets. If these opportunities could be capitalized through policy reforms and other support services, the plastics industry in Bangladesh could achieve significant growth in the future.

  • There are still some applications where plastic manufacturers can enter profitably. In the household segment, more expensive wood-based products can be replaced by less costly plastic products. For instance, in the recent years the local market has seen an exponential growth in the demand for plastic furniture.
  • Presently, Bangladesh produces mainly basic plastic products and possesses a nominal share in the global production. Therefore, there is a huge potential to compete in the international market through product diversification and quality improvements.
  • Plastics industry is now working as a backward linkage industry for many growing industries, especially the RMG and pharmaceuticals, has created a lot of opportunities for value added within the country. If more forward linkage industries such as food processing, agriculture, automotive, electrical and electronics develop and mature, the plastics sector will experience a robust growth. Conversely, if the plastics sector becomes competitive, these forward linkage industries will enjoy cost advantage.
  • About three years ago, some European countries and USA enforced anti-dumping duty on some of the plastic industries in China, India, Malaysia and Thailand. This gives us an opportunity to take advantage of the market.
  • Bangladesh exported plastic wastes amounted to USD 6 million in 2007. Despite huge demand for recycled raw materials inside the country, these products were exported because of a lack of proper technology for waste recycling in Bangladesh. This also forces the industry to increase the quality of recycled raw materials. Introduction of better technology would not only save the environment but also create huge opportunities for recycling these products domestically and would significantly reduce the reliance on plastic raw materials imported from abroad at high prices.
  • Increasing trust and collaboration among value chain partners, competitors and stakeholders has resulted in smooth operation within the sector. Also, there is a growing dependence on value chain partners, particularly among SMEs.
  • Cheap labor is a competitive advantage for Bangladesh to flourish in the plastic sector.
  • Plastic industry has led to a growth of other backward linkage sectors, such as light engineering sector in Bangladesh