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Packaging alliance seeks green financing, tax relief to promote recycling projects

By Our Correspondent
May 31, 2023

ISLAMABAD: A multi-stakeholder packaging alliance on Tuesday made recommendations to the government for the upcoming federal budget 2023-24, seeking availability of green financing, a five-year tax holiday for recycling projects, and incentivisation for infrastructure to promote waste-free culture in the country.

The alliance CoRe (Collect and Recycle) made the suggestions highlighting the importance government’s role in facilitating the circular economy. “The first step to address the issue of packaging waste and ensure a waste-free future is public investment in the formal collection and recycling infrastructure,” Sheikh Waqar Ahmed, CEO of CoRe said.

He stressed that the government has an important role in providing appropriate policy framework and enabling environment to promote sustainable and innovative practices to fuel new investment in the sector.

In its budgetary recommendations, CoRe called for availability of green financing by the State Bank of Pakistan to promote waste collection and recycling, a five-year tax holiday for recycling projects for multiple cities in the country, and exemption of sales tax and custom duty, and zero tariff regime for import of equipment for recycling projects.

The alliance also sought incentivisation of the plastic to fuel industry/infrastructure and abolishment of duty for reserve vending machines used to collect plastic packaging waste. Stressing the need for investing in recycling, Babar Aziz Bhatti, managing director, Green Earth Recycling and member CoRe said, “Investing in collection and recycling infrastructure is not only beneficial to the environment, but also to the economy. Materials recovered from the recycling process have the potential of saving billions of dollars in foreign exchange reserves for the country.”

Hammad Naqi, CEO of WWF-Pakistan and board director at CoRe, was of the view that the plastic crisis extends beyond all borders, impacting the health of oceans and wildlife, and the livelihoods of people from major cities to small coastal communities.

“The scope and scale of this global issue must be met with equally ambitious solutions and necessary budget allocation for creating a circular economy,” he said. According to the United Nations Development Program, more than 3.3 million tonnes of plastics are discarded each year in Pakistan. Most of these make their way into the environment, resulting in a plethora of environmental, health and social problems.

“The first step to address the issue and ensure a waste-free future is public investment in the formal collection and recycling infrastructure. The government has an important role in providing appropriate policy framework and enabling environment to promote sustainable and innovative practices,” the alliance’ statement said.

CoRe was established by some like-minded industry players, non-governmental organisations, packaging companies, and recyclers to eliminate packaging waste through collective action. Currently, its members include The Coca-Cola Company, Ecolean, Engro Polymer and Chemicals, FrieslandCampina, Green Earth Recycling, Jazz, Luck Core Industries Limited, METRO, Nestlé Pakistan, Novatex, Packages, PepsiCo, SDPI, SPEL, Tetra Pak, TOTAL PARCO, and UNDP, Unilever, and WWF-Pakistan.