ISLAMABAD: Lauding Sindh government’s decision to ban non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags in the province, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said ensuring full implementation of the ban was the only way to safeguard public health and tackle environmental degradation.
Talking to media on Tuesday, Mr Aslam said the use of plastic shopping bags had emerged as serious environmental and health challenge for the country.
“Tackling this issue is vital to overcoming environmental degradation that costs billions of rupees annually to the national economy. Banning the use, sale, purchase and manufacturing of single-use plastic bags is a key step towards protecting environment and public health,” he said.
Says other provinces should follow suit to safeguard public health and tackle environmental degradation
According to the Ministry of Climate Change, the Sindh government notified on Sept 27 a ban on the use, sale, purchase and manufacturing of biodegradable plastic bags of all sizes across the province from Oct 1.
The ban aims at overcoming the growing environmental and public health challenges arising out of the rampant use of non-degradable plastic bags.
“While the ban on the use of plastic bags has been put in place, implementing the ban by completely prohibiting its use, sale, purchase and manufacturing will be a serious test for the provincial government,” said Mr Aslam.
He said there was also a need that the provincial government introduced and promoted alternative bags made of fabric and other degradable and environmental-friendly materials.
He urged other provinces to follow the federal and Sindh governments to rid the country of plastic bags.
He said Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had already announced to ban plastic bags in the province and was working towards the goal of making Punjab free of it.
The federal government banned the use, sale, purchase and manufacturing of plastic bags at all levels through a law and created a replicable model for other provincial governments to follow.
The ministry imposed a blanket ban on the use of polythene shopping bags in Islamabad with effect from August 14 this year.
Affecting humans besides killing the wild and marine life and affecting the overall environmental and public health throughout the world, these plastic bags do not readily break down in the environment and require 20 to 1,000 years to decompose.
While the use of plastic bags is rising at the rate of 15 per cent annually, 12 million plastic bags were used in Pakistan between 1990 and 1991. This consumption had surged to 43 billion in 2005 and up to 55 billion in 2007, according to a survey conducted in 2013 by Pakistan Environment Protection Agency, Islamabad.
Climate Change Secretary Hassan Nasir Jami said the ban would help tackle growing solid waste management problem in the country. Discarded/used plastic bags constituted a major portion of the overall solid waste generated across the country and the problem was now a graver challenge.
“This is partly because relatively low-waste collection and recycling rates make the problem of waste plastic more visible, requiring huge budgetary allocations for governments to manage solid waste in scientifically and environmentally-safe manners,” he added.
Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2019