RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) Punjab reiterated its commitment to eliminate plastic bags from the district, announcing a complete ban on the use of all types of shopping bags and polythene bags from June 5.

This decisive measure aims to eradicate plastic bags and mitigate the risks posed by plastic to human life, wildlife and aquatic ecosystems.

This was informed in an awareness session with schoolchildren held on the occasion of Earth Day. The initiative, in collaboration with Murree Brewery, Attock Oil Refinery and the National Cleaner Production Centre aims to promote environmental protection measures.

The function was attended by Deputy Director Environment Protection Agency Maria Safeer, along with assistant directors Anza Niazi, Namra Tariq, Romaisa Babar and Inspector Inamul Haq.

Themed ‘Plastic vs. Earth’, this year’s Earth Day campaign seeks to tackle the pressing issue of plastic pollution. The EPA Rawalpindi team has distributed cloth bags to children and shops across the city to encourage the use of eco-friendly alternatives. Banners advocating against plastic usage adorned prominent locations in the city to raise awareness among the people.

In alignment with the Punjab government regulations, a comprehensive ban has been imposed not only on the sale of plastic bags less than 75 microns but also on various plastic items, including disposables and multi-layer packaging plastic products listed in Schedules 1 and 2 of the Punjab Single-Use Plastic Products Regulation 2023. Stringent penalties and imprisonment await violators.

Moreover, all plastic manufacturers, collectors and recyclers throughout the province are mandated to register with the Punjab Environment Protection and Climate Change Department to ensure accountability and regulation.

Plastic pollution poses a significant threat to land, water and air quality, exacerbating environmental degradation. Its adverse effects on human health, including cancer and the ingestion of microplastics present in food, underscore the urgency of addressing this issue.

The deputy director emphasised the individual responsibility to opt for cloth bags over plastic ones and choose steel or other environmentally friendly alternatives for food consumption.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2024

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