Capital gears up to embrace plastic-free environment

ISLAMABAD    -   After repeated failed attempts of previous regimes, the present gov­ernment has once again geared up a campaign to cleanse the federal capital of plastic waste. With consis­tent population influx to Islamabad Capital Territory, the city continued getting dirtier in recent years mak­ing the government reorganize its efforts for a cleaner capital.

From North to South, no drain, spring, river plain, or watercourse is found pure from plastics as the ir­responsible attitude of the masses as well as city managers gradually adul­terated the city. Today almost every water body is contaminated with sin­gle-use plastic bags, wrappers of chips, biscuits, water bottles, cold drinks, and single-use plastic cutlery. Now the situation in the capital is also not much different from other cities where litter­ing has become a permanent threat to the environment. The biome is repeat­edly ambushed by formidable tourists throwing their waste carelessly into natural habitats endangering wildlife, birdlife, and other species.

Cognizant of the situation, the Min­istry of Climate Change and Environ­mental Coordination through its Paki­stan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) has re-launched a campaign to ban the one-time use of plastics under its proud slogan of “Say No to Plastics”. “The Ministry is spearhead­ing enforcement of Single-Use Plastics (Prohibition) Regulations, 2023 that bars manufacturing, importing, dis­tribution, sale and use of single-use plastic items,” remarked Director Gen­eral, Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) Farzana Altaf Shah. “This campaign is particularly focusing on controlling plastic litter and promot­ing responsible consumer behavior.”

She said under the leadership of Prime Minister’s Coordinator on Cli­mate Change, Romina Khursheed Alam, it is one of our prime respon­sibilities to keep capital clean. Mean­while, Romina Khurshid Alam in her recent meeting with the members of the Collect and Recycle Alliance (CoRe) had also directed to take pro­active steps through social media strategies, collection and recycling points, and follow-up meetings for effective implementation of Single-Use Plastics Regulations, 2023. “The producers, importers, distributors, suppliers, and beverage manufactur­ers have a critical role in implement­ing awareness-raising measures out­lined in Section 12 of the law,” the PM’s Coordinator had underlined. These measures include incentiv­izing responsible consumer behav­ior, promoting reusable alternatives, and educating consumers about the harmful impacts of plastic littering.

Globally plastic production per year has exceeded a whooping mag­nitude of 459.75 million tons with a cumulative production of 9.5 bil­lion tons in total by 2019. In Paki­stan alone, 3.3 million tons of plastic waste is generated annually which is equivalent to the height of two K2 Mountains. Realizing the urgency of action to curb plastic pollution, 175 nations forged synergies at the United Nations Environment As­sembly in 2022 to develop an obliga­tory international agreement to end plastic pollution by 2024. “Pak-EPA has already tasked the schedule and enforcement teams for implementa­tion of Single-Use Plastic (Prohibi­tion) Regulations, 2023 with the col­laboration and support of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administra­tion,” informed Farzana Altaf Shah.

The aim of Single-Use Plastics (Pro­hibition) Regulations 2023 is to fight littering and prevent carcinogenic and problematic plastic items from en­tering the market to reduce adverse impacts on human health and the en­vironment, Farzana said. The Single-Use Plastics (Prohibition) Regulations, 2023 mark a significant milestone in Pakistan’s commitment to environ­mental sustainability. By adopting comprehensive measures to tackle plastic pollution, Pakistan reaffirms its dedication to safeguarding the health of its citizens and preserving its natu­ral heritage for future generations.

Recently, the Pak-EPA enforcement team confiscated over 0.27 tons of plastic bags and disposable cutlery from different markets, hotels, eater­ies, retailers, and Margalla Hills Na­tional Park in the federal capital. “The government’s revived campaign on the prohibition of plastics was appre­ciable, but it should have a three-tier approach of ACA (Awareness, Capac­ity, and Accountability),” opined the CEO, of Resilient Future International, Aftab Alam Khan. He said, in terms of awareness there are quadrants of components against plastic pollution like ‘refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle.’ “This 4R strategy is very important because we have to stop production of harmful plastic and look for better means to fulfill masses requirement.”

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt