ISLAMABAD-The Ministry of Climate Change has devised a 3-phase strategy to free Islamabad Capital Territory from plastic bags.

The ministry has made all preparations for a massive 3-tier campaign on plastic bags to make the ban a success, said an official of the ministry, Hassan Nasir Jamy.

The ministry had demanded a week from the federal cabinet for implementation action on the Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) after its approval, he said.

“The implementation mechanism will kick start from the education and awareness of the masses in the first week. It will commence by the next till the end of July where the ministry would engage people to people contact to impart them knowledge on the hazards of plastic bags and reason for its ban,” the official said.

He said that the next week activities would focus on providing alternates and homemade solutions to the layman for plastic bags. There had been proposals by scientists to introduce household decomposing capacities for phasing out plastic bags, the official noted.

“We have suggested cotton bags, jute bags and any other bags except polythene bags as alternates in the SRO,” he added. However, in the last phase the implementation of the ban on plastic bags would be imposed from August 7 to 14, he added.

The ministry, he said, had made over 100,000 cotton bags which will be distributed among the masses in Friday and Sunday bazaars to acquaint them with the alternates of plastic bags.

“We will also distribute cotton bags in all ministries so that their staff could take up the message to shun use of plastic bags. The youth, students and civil society would be engaged for the distribution of cotton bags in the public places and bazaars,” the ministry official said.

Moreover, a massive awareness campaign on social, electronic and print media would be launched along with outdoor campaigns at metro stations, parks and other public places. The business community would also be involved in the process as it would be incorporated under corporate social responsibility (CSR), he said.

To a question, he said that no one was going to face unemployment and business crunch as it would involve merely the conversion of their plants to produce biodegradable plastic bags. “At present, there is only one unit in the federal capital which has the required paraphernalia to adapt during the implementation of ban,” he added.

Answering another question, he said that 80 per cent of the plastic bags in the federal capital come from Punjab province where the district administration would take all preemptive measures to avoid trafficking of plastic bags in the ICT.

He said that plastic bags had been a serious threat to our environment as it was the major cause for choking of drains, bad air quality due to its burning in open air and causing carcinogenic ailments due to the dissolving of plastic with the food.

Research Fellow at Sustainable Development Policy Institute Imran Saqib Khalid said that plastic bags had no doubt a share in the pollution of our environment but the core issue was of nonexistent proper waste management system namely technical landfill site.

He said that prior to legislation it was necessary to focus on behavioural change as public was dumping non-degradable and degradable waste together in the dumpsters. It was necessary to had an inclusive and holistic approach to overcome this issue which would not only help improve the system environmentally rather economically, he added.

“It is an opportunity for the government to pave the way for circular economy which is the concept that would help to accomplish the ambitious target of zero waste. It basically gives the idea of making waste or residue a source of income for others,” he added.