Renewed Commitment

‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ was this year’s theme for World Environment Day, celebrated globally yesterday. The UN’s insistence on highlighting this issue prompted the government, as well as organisations in the public and private sector, to renew its commitment towards combating plastic pollution in Pakistan. Our inability to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics is evident from the countless landfills and dumpster sites across cities where waste sits idle. Even the roads speak of our failure to manage land pollution well. To see key stakeholders make an active effort to resolve this crisis is reassuring, but it should not underscore the fact that more must be done and fast.
On average, Pakistan produces 3.9 million tonnes of plastic waste on a yearly basis and 65 percent of this is mismanaged. We have adopted ineffective and unsustainable waste disposal systems which will threaten the future of our country. Plastics in particular are resistant to decomposition and play a dangerous and permanent role in our ecosystem. Acknowledging this dire problem, the federal government established its National Plastic Action Partnership through which it aims to encourage and implement a circular economy framework that reduces plastic waste and pollution. The potential for this is immense, especially with companies like Engro on board. Channels to partner up with academics and social entrepreneurs have opened up and could lead the country towards a more sustainable method of using plastics, provided all these organisations take this initiative seriously and allocate time, effort and resources towards it.
More than this, the government is also encouraging local and international businesses to incorporate recycling as part of their company policies and all efforts could go towards them fulfilling their social corporate responsibilities. In fact, the Plastics Prohibition Regulation of 2023 is in the works for Islamabad and expects to phase out single-use plastics entirely. Should this prove to be a successful piece of legislation that is implemented with strictness, perhaps it can also be expanded to other cities like Lahore and Karachi where land plastic pollution is a major problem.
It is very clear that the country is now moving to a point where environmentally friendly policies and regulations will become the norm and this is worth celebrating. The only point to focus on is implementation and ensuring that these initiatives do not die out.

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