Say ‘no’ to plastic bags | Pakistan Today

Say ‘no’ to plastic bags

Despite a ban on polythene bags, they are being manufactured and used in Islamabad and the adjoining city of Rawalpindi, which shows inadequate government action against their manufactures and a lack of cost-effective environment-friendly alternatives.
Polythene bags cause environmental pollution if solid waste containing these bags is not collected and disposed of properly. Stray plastic shoppers choke drains and create an unaesthetic view of the environment. The practice of burning them produces dioxins and furans which are persistent organic pollutants and extremely harmful to human and animal health.
According to experts, a majority of lightweight polythene bags do not reach landfill site where they can be disposed of safely. Instead, they remain airborne and get stuck on fences and trees.
They also provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes that spread diseases such as dengue, malaria and others vector ailments. Though the ministry of environment had banned the sale, manufacture and use of these light polythene bags; it has failed to put the ban into practice.
“Environmental pollution is a growing concern not only in Pakistan, but also all over the world. Without tougher environmental legislation and proper consultation from all stakeholders, it will be very difficult for the government to succeed in its fight against polythene bags,” said Shakil Ahmed, an expert on environmental issues.
He said the alarming thing was that the government had failed to stop its use even in the capital and Rawalpindi, not to mention other cities and towns in the country.
He said that the plastic bags that got buried in landfills might take up to a thousand years to break down and in the process they separate into smaller and smaller toxic particles that contaminate the soil and water.
The Environment Ministry had earlier recommended to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) that duty on import of oxo-biodegradable additives used for the manufacturing of biodegradable bags be reduced from 6 to 0 per cent.
Earlier, alternatives to polythene bags such as paper and cloth bags were being introduced into the markets, but they did not receive good response. However, statements from environment managers reveal that the manufacturers opposed ban on polythene bags as it would affect jobs of thousands of people associated with the plastic bag manufacture industry. Instead, they argued that the main issue was collection of solid waste, and if it was collected properly, then there would be no polythene bags left in dustbins. Ironically, residents of the capital city and other cities across the country do not play their due role in curbing the use of polythene bags. “People do not care about shopping bags we give them. We had used paper bags as well, but the use of plastic bags has increased again,” says Shakir a shopkeeper in Aabpara market.

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