RAWALPINDI: The imposition of plastic ban in federal capital has brought starvation for thousands of people linked with the business, market sources said.
The ban has directly and indirectly affected many households as most of the factories manufacturing them have either been shut down or their employees have become victims of downsizing, traders in the commercial hub of the city told The Express Tribune.
Similarly, a huge number of people working on daily-wages with plastic bag distribution, wholesale or retail businesses are finding it hard to earn bread, they said.
A number of printing factories, which printed labels on bags, have also wound up their business, creating unemployment for thousands of poor labourers and workers.
Women on the outskirts of federal capital and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, who were running small machines at homes for making plastic bags, say their only source of income has been wiped off with the ban. These women have become vulnerable to food insecurity and even starvation, The Express Tribune found out during discussions with people associated with the trade of plastic shoppers.
The distribution business of plastic bags has declined overnight and a number of businessmen associated with the business are on the verge of bankruptcy.
In this regard, a plastic bag distributor, Muhammad Tanvir, told The Express Tribune that some 75 young men and women were working in his small distribution company who used to supply bags in Islamabad and adjoining areas.
Tanvir said that a sudden ban had brought a downfall in the business making it impossible for him to pay salaries. Therefore, he said half of the staff of the company was told to go home. Tanvir said he was sorry to end employment of people, but he could not afford to pay them.
Similarly, a plastic bag factory owner Hattar Industrial Area of K-P, Dr Muhammad Sharif, said that the government imposed ban without doing proper homework.
According to Dr Sharif thousands of people were linked to the business directly or indirectly and it seemed that the ban would not be confined to Islamabad only. He said he was anticipating a ban in K-P too.
Dr Sharif has shut down his factory making 200 workers unemployed. Government should have introduced alternatives in the market before placing a ban.
He said that not only factory owners but daily-wage workers linked with the business were facing extreme difficulties in prevailing period of economic downturn and lack of jobs.
Dr Sharif demanded that the government should provide employment to labourers, who had lost their jobs due to ban in order to help them meet their kitchen expenses and afford food for their children.
RCCI condemns raids, harassment
The Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) has shown serious concerns on a recent wave of raids, sealing and closure of shops and food outlets on account of plastic bag ban.
RCCI President Malik Shahid Saleem in a meeting with traders at chamber house on Thursday said that the RCCI has received multiple complaints of raids and harassment of traders by government machinery mainly Ministry of Climate Change on use of polythene bags.
He said recently the officials of the Ministry of Climate Change and Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency raided a local food outlet for inspection and implementation of their new ‘no plastic bags’ policy.
The matter was immediately taken into the notice of district administration and resolved amicably, however, the affidavit was later made viral on social media which not only damaged the goodwill of the outlet but also caused defamation of staff. “We condemn this kind of behavior from the government and the MoCC,” he said.
RCCI president said that traders were already showing compliance to environment friendly polythene bags. It was very unfortunate that the given activity resulted in the harassment of the business community and halted the actual cause of the motive.
Traders do support government initiative of plastic free and environment friendly business activities in the cities.
However, a detailed mapping of opportunities in the industry for recycling of plastic, cost and availability of substitutes of single-use plastic bags is needed.
The end users need to be taken aboard in a way that instead of being motivated by legal compulsions, they voluntarily ask for eco-friendly substitutes, he added.
On the other hand, the government must improve its waste management system in the cities and introduce a new policy for re-cycling plants and Ecopreneurs must be promoted to make Clean Pakistan project, a success, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2019.