Workers sort thousands of bottles for recycling in Bangladesh

Adrift in the plastic ocean: Workers tirelessly sort hundreds of thousands of bottles by colour so they can be recycled in Bangladesh

  • Amazing photos show workers at a plastic bottle recycling centre in Bogra, north Bangladesh
  • Workers wade through a veritable sea of hundreds of thousands of bottles to sort them all by colour
  • The photographs show the colossal scale of plastic use in Bangladesh and elsewhere in modern society

These incredible photos show workers at a recycling plant in Bangladesh wading through hundreds of thousands of plastic bottles to separate them all by colour. 

Labourers are seen navigating the sea of plastic to stack huge collections of the different shape, size, and coloured bottles.

From green, transparent and brown, each must be separated into its respective group before it can be compressed into blocks and then melted to make new bottles. 

Plastic fantastic: Workers tirelessly sort a sea of hundreds of thousands – possibly more than a million – plastic bottles by colour at a recycling centre in Bogra, Bangladesh

Hard work: Collectors carrying huge wicker baskets gather either brown, green or transparent bottles in a wicker basket before removing bottle caps and labels 

Labouring task: Each bottle must be separated into its respective group before it can be compressed into blocks and then melted to make new bottles

The stunning photos, which show the colossal scale of plastic use, were captured by photographer Abdul Momin in Bogra, Bangladesh.

Mr Momin, 27, said: ‘I took these photos at a recycling factory. Only soft drink and water bottles are being recycled here.

‘Workers sorted the bottles by colour first and then removed the bottles’ labels, stickers and caps.

‘The sorted bottles are then sent to a compressor machine where bottles are turned into giant plastic blocks using enormous pressure.

‘There were three huge stacks of bottles, each was 10-12 feet high and 80-100 feet in diameter.’ 

Stack it up: The stunning photos show the colossal scale of plastic use  in modern society

Two women are seen wading through the sea of plastic as they sort bottles by colour into wicker baskets

Step by step: The bottles are collected in big plastic bags  which can be up to 10-12 feet high and 80-100 feet in diameter

Drowning in the sea: A male worker empties another huge bag of bottles in various colours onto the mountain of others 

‘I couldn’t say how many there were exactly, but there must have been millions of them.

‘I was looking for a bottle recycling factory for many days as I knew they would make for amazing photos.

‘It looked like a mountain of plastic, it was incredible.

‘These bottles will eventually be sent to bottle production factories, where they will melt them down and make new bottles.’ 

Back again: Within a few days, the bottles at the recycling centre will have been made into new containers

Money maker: The bottles are often not initially recycled, but rather collected by poor or homeless people and sold to the recycling company for a small fee

Climb every mountain: Workers use planks or ladders to move across the sea of bottle without sinking 

 Mr Momin, who is from Bogra himself, added: ‘People in Bangladesh never use dustbins.

‘They just throw these bottles wherever they wish and homeless people collect them from drains, canals and rivers.

‘They sell them to brokers at a very cheap rate and brokers sell them to these recycling factories, then new bottles come back into existence after a few days.’

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