Pressure has been growing, off and on, on Pakistan retailers to reduce their use of plastic bags and packaging to promote the sustainability effort. But often, despite loud pledges by the provincial governments to gradually phase out the environment-destroying single-use polythene bags, not much in the way of success has so far been achieved. A lack of will to implement the ban on the part of the authorities appears to be behind this failure. This is why, now superior courts have stepped up to make sure the plastic bags are shoved out of the market and recyclable paper bags are introduced in their place.
The Lahore High Court on Thursday directed the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce ban on the manufacturing, sale and use of polythene bags in entire Punjab. Justice Shahid Karim was hearing a public interest petition when the petitioner’s counsel said at present the ban on plastic bags was enforced in Lahore, Gujranwala and Faisalabad districts. He said except three, the bags were being used in all districts of the province, posing a great hurdle to achieving the real purpose of the ban on environmentally hazardous polythene bags. The judge ordered the EPA to extend this ban in the entire province and give ten days to mega stores and shopping malls for compliance of the order.
Earlier, a law officer filed a report about the ban on plastic bags in three districts and the action taken against the violators. A separate report was also submitted about the action being taken against the factories for violation of environment laws. The petition filed by a citizen stated that the plastic products caused harmful effects on human health and environment. It said the polythene bags were single-use products which took thousands of years to decompose and that they had been causing havoc in various areas of Punjab by damaging the sewerage system of cities, spreading epidemics, polluting soil, causing water pollution and endangering aquatic life.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2020.
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