ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam on Monday said Kenya’s technology for polythene bags conversion into biodegradable ones would be adopted.
Addressing a Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change chaired by Senator Sitara Ayaz, the adviser said, “The conversion is not a difficult task as the Kenyan model for biodegradable solutions will be incorporated.”
He said the manufacturers should realise that they were heading in the wrong direction which should be corrected.
“After China, the Indus River is the second most polluted river in the world due to plastic pollution. Every Pakistani consumes five grammes of plastic equal to the size of a credit card due to plastic contamination in food, ambience and water. In 1990, 10 million plastic bags had been produced in the country in a year, which has gone up to 55 billion, which is alarming,” he told the committee.
After plastic bags, Amin said, crispy potato chips’ wrappers were the biggest challenge for us while imposing ban on plastic bags.
“We have ordered the chips manufacturers under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to collect and recycle the wrappers themselves otherwise they will not be allowed to sell their products in the federal capital,” the adviser said.
State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul said that no industry or unit was going to face shutdown or unemployment. It had given rise to new market competitors, especially women, to get their share in the new sort of cottage industry for cotton, paper and jute bags production, she added.
Senior Ministry of Climate Change Joint Secretary Hammad Shamimi informed the committee that seven-month-long deliberations and negotiations were held with all stakeholders on board mainly plastic bags association, recycling association and academia.
“At least three expert scientists guided us in making this legislation regarding imposing a ban on plastic bags,” he added. “The ministry is piloting this project in the federal capital as a model, which would be replicable for the provinces.” Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (PAK-EPA) Director General Farzana Altaf Shah said the federal capital was a city of two million people where plastic bags’ consumption was noted to be three to six bags per day per person by the PAK-EPA.
All Pakistan Plastic Bags Association Representative Shoaib Munshi said that one million people and 10,000 industries were associated with the plastic bags’ production. The solution for plastic bags pollution was recycling and reuse of the bags.
“This will help adopt a circular economy concept of sustainable development and will increase 20 per cent employment. The pollution is due to poor waste management which should be the focus of the government,” he added.
He said that the government should introduce littering fine which had gone rampant everywhere in the country.
Earlier, Chairperson Senator Ayaz and the members lambasted the Senior Aviation Division Joint Secretary Abdus Sattar Khokhar who was adamant to accept the notification for making plastic wrapping of luggage mandatory for passengers at Islamabad Airport.
However, Joint Secretary Khokhar confirmed that the plastic wrapping of luggage was not mandatory at the airport, but it was compulsory for the pilgrims travelling under ‘Road to Makkah’. (With additional input from APP)