UPDATE (October 01, 2019): Sindh government’s ban on single-use plastic bags has gone into effect. Chief Minister’s Adviser on Information Senator Murtaza Wahab tweeted a notification on Sept. 30, according to which the “manufacture, sale and use of non-biodegradable plastic/shopping bags” is now prohibited in the province.
Plastic bags are omnipresent in Pakistan. Owing to their convenience, availability and affordability, poly-bags have inadvertently become an integral part of our lifestyle. This is why you can easily spot polythene bags almost everywhere—in grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, etc. It’s troubling because plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental challenges our world is facing right now. Fortunately, many countries are actively fighting against this menace. For example, government authorities in Pakistan recently proposed a ban on plastic bags.
It’s a much-needed, and long-overdue, measure, considering the South Asian nation often ranks as one of the most polluted countries in the world.
Ban on Plastic Bags – Why it’s Necessary
Remember, our lifestyle has a direct impact on the environment around us. Have you ever thought about the consequences of excessive use of plastic? Available in the form of bottles, wrappers, household items, toys, bags and other types of packaging, things made of plastic may be making our lives easier but they are polluting our environment.
Take a plastic bag or container as an example. We usually discard these items after usage. By throwing away a plastic container or a polythene bag, we are polluting our surroundings, little by little. A not-so-fun-fact: Plastic can take centuries to decompose.
What is more alarming is that, the production rate of plastic has grown exponentially in recent years. Around one-third of plastic products, especially polythene bags are thrown away to pollute the environment.
Different types of rallies, social media campaigns and events are organized every now and then on international as well as local level to spread the awareness regarding the harms of using plastic. Use of plastic is one of the most serious environmental issues that our society is facing right now. In Pakistan, authorities have also come into action and have started imposing ban on plastic bags in different parts of the country.
Plastic – A Brief History
The origin of plastic can be traced back to the year 1906, when the very first form of plastic, chemically named as bakelite, was invented. It wasn’t until the 1960s, when the graph of popularity of plastic bags experienced a sudden up-stick. By the time, plastic bags made of polyethylene, were marketed as disposable products that people could easily use to shop on the go. Furthermore, cheap manufacturing cost also served as one of the biggest reasons behind the growing popularity of polyethylene bags, also known as, polythene bags.
Negative Impact of Plastic Bags
The presence of plastic bags poses many threats to the environment, our health and other living creatures on the planet. The menace of plastic has not only affected life on land but under the sea as well. When piled up, plastic bags block drainage systems causing flood like situations in the cities. Moreover, plastic is one of the biggest sources behind the widespread of pollution in the oceans. Despite recycling of products made of plastic has been made a common practice in the western world still only a fraction of total plastic production is recycled. Rest of it is disposed of in the landfill.
The effects of plastic pollution on human health remain widely unnoticed. Polythene bags and packaging, with the help of which you can consume edible items on the go, contain Bisphenol A, shortened as BPA, that come in direct contact with the liquid and food in it. BPA is extremely toxic for the person in taking it.
Alternatives to Plastic Bags
Call it a mix of old methods and new technology, people have come up with different ways of avoiding non-biodegradable plastic products. The growing menace of plastic pollution resulted in the invention of biodegradable plastic. It takes far less time to decompose and is considered environmentally friendly. Multinational hypermarket and supermarket chains in the world like Spar and Carrefour have already started providing bags made of cloth and biodegradable plastics.
Moreover, plastic bottles are now being replaced by glass bottles for the distribution of different types of beverages. In light of increasing phenomenon of plastic pollution awareness, the replacement of polythene bags with paper bags and biodegradable bags is slowly and gradually becoming a norm in Pakistan as well. As an individual, it is also our responsibility to try our level best to cut back the use of plastic and seek for the available alternatives.
Ban on Plastic Bags in Islamabad and other cities of Pakistan
Pursuing an effort to make Islamabad plastic-bag free, the government of Pakistan has recently put a ban on plastic bags in the capital city. It is a wide-scale ban, prohibiting all the sale and purchase of non-biodegradable polythene bags. Anyone found guilty of violating the plastic ban will be slapped with a fine of PKR 15,000. Shopkeepers and store owners around the city have been sent out a legal notification.
The Ministry of Climate Change in Pakistan is on a mission to curb the intensity of human and environmental efforts in the country. Different types of awareness campaigns on public as well a private level have also been organized to educate different sectors of our society, most importantly the young generation.
The Islamabad Municipal Corporation (IMC) has planned to launch a very interactive drive regarding the plastic ban. According to this drive, new plastic-like cloth bags and degradable plastic bags will be introduced in the city. The next phase would include penalizing of citizens who would violate the ban.
News has also started rolling in from other cities of Pakistan such as Quetta, Lahore and Karachi, where legal action is being taken against people involved in the production, purchase and sale of plastic bags. In Karachi, the Defence Housing Authority has recently imposed a blanket ban on the usage of plastic bags. Well, if followed consistently, such measures have the potential to dramatically bring down the environmental contamination in Pakistan.
On an individual level, along with abandoning the use of plastic bags, there are certain measures you can take to play your part in making Pakistan clean and green. Furthermore, if you want to reach us, you can always send out an email to us at email@example.com and we will try to respond as soon as we can.
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