Sunday September 24, 2023

Call for effective national action plan against plastic pollution

By Our Correspondent
June 05, 2023

The National Forum for Environment & Health (NFEH) has demanded that the federal, provincial and local governments sit together and adopt a national action plan to effectively deal with the issue of plastic waste before this polluting issue causes irreversible damage in the country. In an address in connection with World Environment Day 2023 (June 5), NFEH President Naeem Qureshi said that the least Pakistan should do is ensure that all main urban centres in the country strictly impose the ban on single-use polythene bags to tackle the problem of plastic pollution.

He was addressing a meeting of the NFEH core committee to organise an interactive seminar in connection with World Environment Day at a hotel on Monday (today). Sindh Environment Minister Ismail Rahoo will be the chief guest of this event, while Shariq Vohra, Ali Asghar Khadim, Saquib Ejaz Hussain, Farazur Rehman and Zahra Ali Syed will join him as speakers. Qureshi said that the theme of this year’s World Environment Day — ‘Solutions to plastic pollution’ — befittingly highlights the environmental catastrophe Pakistan and other developing countries have been facing due to the unattended issue of polythene bags and unchecked use of other plastic material in everyday life.

He highlighted that monsoon season is about to begin all over the country, and all the main cities, especially Karachi, can again face the issue of urban flooding due to choked storm water drains. He said that various studies and surveys have repeatedly pointed out that waste mainly generated due to the unattended problem of polythene bags is the main cause behind the choking of the Karachi’s storm water drains. He lamented that the menacing problem of plastic waste in Karachi not just creates the issue of urban flooding during monsoons but also causes massive harm to the marine and coastal environment of the city. The NFEH president pointed out that around eight million tonnes of plastic material enters the oceans and seas every year, and that a country like Pakistan that has no proper mechanism in place to deal with this issue is a major contributor to this cause of marine pollution. He said that certain estimates indicate that over 50 per cent of the total waste generated in Pakistan is made up of plastics. Another study points out that up to 55 billion polythene bags are in use in Pakistan, and this number keeps on increasing every year, he added.

He urged the federal, provincial and local governments in Pakistan to be on the same page to deal with the plastic waste issue of the country before it is too late. Besides imposing a complete ban on single-use polythene bags, the government should promote the use of products made of biodegradable plastic to lessen the damage to the environment and marine ecosystem of the country, he suggested.

He highlighted that the main urban centres in Pakistan, especially Karachi, lack a proper system to dispose of tonnes of solid waste generated every day, so it is all the more important to significantly reduce the use of plastic products in the country. He said the government and all the relevant agencies of the state should be on the same page to adopt the policy of reuse, reduction and recycling when it comes to dealing with the issue of plastic pollution. “Given the constant decrease in green cover, unchecked use of fossil fuels, and harmful emissions from industries and vehicles, it is of the utmost necessity to impose a complete ban on single-use plastic bags to save our environment from irreparable harm.”