'Complete ban' on plastic bags in Sindh from October

Updated Aug 09 2019

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Barrister Murtaza Wahab and others show cloth bags distributed among citizens. — Photo provided by author
Barrister Murtaza Wahab and others show cloth bags distributed among citizens. — Photo provided by author

The Sindh government on Thursday announced it will be enforcing a complete ban on plastic bags throughout the province with effect from October 1.

Barrister Murtaza Wahab, spokesperson for the Government of Sindh, held a press conference in Karachi to announce that, starting the first of October, there will be a complete ban on the sale, manufacturing and use of plastic bags in the province.

He said that that the decision had been taken by the provincial environment department. The provincial government had kicked off an awareness campaign about the harms of using plastic bags and, in connection with this drive, cloth bags have been distributed among Karachi's citizens to encourage their use.

The PPP leader recalled that the use of plastic bags had previously been banned by the provincial government, and the government was merely implementing the decision throughout the province.

On March 21, 2018, the provincial government had imposed a complete ban on the manufacture, sale and purchase of plastic bags across the province. The ban was imposed under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure by the Sindh home department with immediate effect and until further orders.

On Nov 10, 2018, the Sindh cabinet had decided to reimpose a phase-wise ban on the use of polythene and plastic bags in the province, with Sukkur being the first district to implement the ban.

However, on March 11, 2019, the Sindh Assembly had been told that the provincial government did not intend to take any action against manufacturers of polythene shopping bags that could lead to the shutdown of their industry and render thousands of people jobless.

Wahab warned today that, after the Oct 1 deadline, violators of the ban will face legal proceedings.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah in a video message urged the public to ditch plastic bags, noting that they are a major pollutant. He said that the government will encourage the use of cloth or paper bags, and appealed to the masses to join the campaign.

"Say no to plastic bags," he said in conclusion to his message.

A normal plastic bag takes 400 to 1,000 years to degenerate and almost every piece of plastic ever produced still exists in some form in our environment. The amount of plastic waste has been increasing by 10pc each year for the past 20 years, and its accumulation poses grave threats to the well-being of living organisms.