KARACHI: On occasion of World Environment Day, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) organised a round table conference in collaboration with the National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) and other stakeholders with the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.
The celebration of World Environment Day started in 1974 with the purpose of raising awareness, supporting action and driving change. Through the celebration of this day worldwide, the significance of preserving the environment is highlighted through various events, such as seminars, talks, television programmes and walks for environmental protection.
Each year, World Environment Day has a theme which major corporations, non-governmental organisations, communities, governments and celebrities worldwide adopt to promote environmental awareness. The theme for 2018 is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.
Today, plastic poses one of the greatest threats to our natural environment all the more so because it is both cheap and easily available. Many household items are made either partly or wholly from plastic, and while this material has been around for about 50 years, it can now be found in every corner of the world.
Till the 1970s, the use of plastic in Pakistan was limited, but this trend started changing in the 1980s, according to International Union for Conservation of Nature Country Representative Mahmood Akhtar Cheema.
According to Cheema, most of these plastics eventually make their way into rivers, water channels and finally, into the oceans. Media reports about tons of plastic polluting our seas and oceans are frequent. This pollution has a severe effect on marine life; it is unfortunate that due to our irresponsible attitude, we are polluting the very food source which we and our future generations depend on, he said.
Sepa Director Waqar Hussain Phulpoto was the chief guest at the occasion. He talked about the milestones Sepa has achieved to curb the menace of plastic.
Despite having only a handful of resources, Sepa is doing its utmost to combat environmental issues, he said, elaborating that more needs to be done for the protection of the environment, which could only be achieved through a joint effort from all stakeholders and the masses.
He stressed the need to sensitise people about environmental degradation. According to him, Sepa has prosecuted dozens of governmental agencies for their violation of environmental laws.
Earlier, Phulpoto talked to the participants about the recently promulgated notification by Sepa to stop using non-biodegradable polythene bags. He said that Sepa has been relentlessly pursuing stakeholders to adopt the technology for manufacturing biodegradable plastic products.
“Twenty kilogrammes of flexible plastic has been converted into biodegradable plastic from 2015 onwards due to the efforts of Sepa,” he informed.
Dr Nuzhat from the National Institute of Oceanography talked in detail about how one can use trash as a commodity. She said that we often talk about environmental issues, but there is a need to talk about solutions as well.
Brigadier (retd) Tariq from Engro spoke about the impacts of plastic pollution in daily life. He talked about environmental friendly steps taken by Engro in Thar and said that nature has to be preserved, which can only be done as a collaborative effort from all.
Afrasiab from Business Dynamics gave a presentation on biodegradable plastic and said that plastic pollution is a grave issue and as a nation, it is high time to adopt value added solutions like use of biodegradable bags instead of plastic bags.
Afia Salam, a senior environmental journalist, highlighted marine pollution and its dire implications for marine life. She stressed that people should be sensitised to refuse the use of plastic and promote recycling and reusing.
Imran Sabir from Sepa said that people should stop the use of one-time plastic commodities, such as straws and cups, which would create a huge positive impact.