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Wednesday April 24, 2024

Combating rising tide of plastic waste

By Ibne Ahmad
November 26, 2018

Rawalpindi city has been flooded many times over the last two decades. The main reason for the flooding was cited to be the indiscriminate use of plastic bags.

Manufacturers promptly pass increase in packaging costs onto the unaware customers. And it’s double whammy for them as not only does the flooding continue, but we now have to bear the increase as well.

“RWMC workers work as frontline troops in the battle against a rising tide of plastic waste in the city. But the city's insatiable appetite for plastic bags, combined with a poor track record of civic sense among its residents, severely hampers their efforts, especially during the monsoon months,” says Jafar Hussain from Faisal Colony.

“How long will this throbbing city have to fight off floods in its streets? Nobody knows, for sure. Plastic has become a major scourge for the city, clogging vital roads during the seasonal downpours and regularly turning major thoroughfares and service roads into muddy rivers,” says Saira Batool from Gulzar-e-Quaid.

“Every other day city workers descend into city’s bowels to try and clear some of the trash thrown into them by the insensitive citizens. My surrounding localities like Shah Khalid Colony, Tajabad, Fazal Town Phase-1suffer from the same disease,” says Yasir Abbas from Dhoke Hafiz.

“I have seen them lifting a large concrete slab leading to the drainage channel below, scattering an army of cockroaches. Sliding into the filthy water, they use buckets to haul sludge blocking the drainage pipes,” says Eqbal Mehdi from Dhoke Matkaal.

Ainy Jaffri from Dhoke Raja Khan says: “All across the sprawling city there is thriving street food culture with millions eating or buying their meals each day. Consumers dominate vast food and drink markets and shopping malls carrying plastic bags filled with different intake stuff and throwing them on the pavements after eating or drinking with devastating results for the city sewage drains.”

“I don’t know whether the authorities have imposed a ban on the manufacture, sale and purchase of plastic bags or not but their production not only increases level of carbon dioxide in the environment but its components are also harmful for carrying edible goods,” says Afsar Midad Naqvi from Jillani Mohallah.

“The non-biodegradable nature and the chemical composition of plastic bags badly impacts people’s health, resulting in various lung and stomach diseases,” adds Afsar.

Kalbe Raza, a city official says: “Removing so much plastic from the drainage system is a constant battle. Unless there is a major change in consumer habits, or a concerted campaign to reduce bag use, the waste will continue to pile up.”

Sabir Hussain, an environmental activist says: “The government needs to take a stronger lead.”