The Karachi plastics ban

There is an almost complete absence of any efficient waste disposable system

Editorial April 04, 2018

The recently announced ban on the use of plastic bags in Karachi was devised by somebody — or something — that is several sandwiches short of a picnic, a fact obvious to anybody born with even a modicum of common sense. Nobody has been arrested for the illegal use or issuance of plastic bags, and nobody languishes behind bars for their failure to comply with a directive that has been written with a complete absence of knowledge of the real world. The directive was preceded by no government-driven awareness campaign as to the perils of plastic, nor has there been any attempt to provide inexpensive, re-usable, biodegradable and environmentally-friendly alternatives. Traders and retailers remain in blissful ignorance of the directive. Further, there is an almost complete absence of any efficient waste disposable system that includes collection and the separation of recyclable materials and no system introduced, or likely to be introduced in the foreseeable future, whereby households are provided with the means of segregating waste at source.

All of the above is self-evident even to the most myopic, and it is now supported by a panel of experts who have questioned the need for a notification because there is already legislation in existence — the 2014 Sindh Environmental Protection Act — that nobody has ever heard of and never appears to have been enforced anyway. The ban has been imposed — or not — to avoid ‘environmental pollution, choking of drains and environmental health risks to citizens’ which is weapons-grade nonsense given the widespread understanding of the harm that plastics do to the environment globally.

Anybody living in or visiting Karachi will see at first-hand the willful damage being caused, be able to smell the blocked drains, tread through the filth and carry their children across puddles of effluent all having discarded plastic as their prime source. The Sindh government claims to be working hard to find solutions to the problem with as yet no timeline on when the festering wen that is Karachi may have its face washed by. But there are no votes in waste plastic bags? Expect no early result.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2018.

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