Zero-plastic commitment

This unmanaged waste poses a serious threat to marine ecosystems

April 04, 2024


Pakistan’s recent announcement at a UN environment meeting regarding its plans to establish zero plastic waste cities along the Indus River presents a significant development in the global fight against plastic pollution. Termed the ‘Living Indus Initiative’, this ambitious plan aims to confront the pressing environmental challenges posed by plastic waste in key urban areas situated along the Indus Basin.

The initiative not only reflects Pakistan’s commitment to environmental stewardship but also serves as a beacon of hope for other nations contending with similar environmental crises. The decision to prioritise zero plastic waste cities is both timely and commendable, given Pakistan’s annual production of 30 million tonnes of municipal solid waste, a significant portion of which is deemed hazardous. Furthermore, the influx of 80,000 tonnes of hazardous waste from international sources urges the need for comprehensive waste management strategies. Of particular concern is Pakistan’s staggering production of 3.9 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, with only a fraction effectively managed. This unmanaged waste poses a serious threat to marine ecosystems, with 164,332 tonnes of plastic waste annually transported through the Indus River system to the sea. While the unveiling of such a plan signifies a commendable step forward in the fight against plastic pollution, translating this vision into tangible results will require concerted efforts. Key to the success of this initiative will be the development and enforcement of robust regulatory frameworks and policies aimed at managing plastic waste effectively. This includes the implementation of stringent waste management practices such as recycling programmes, waste-to-energy initiatives and stringent penalties for illegal dumping.

We must acknowledge that achieving zero plastic waste cities will be a complex and multifaceted endeavour, requiring long-term commitment and sustained efforts. Nevertheless, with a strong political will and collective determination, this vision can be transformed into reality.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2024.

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