4 Ways Pakistan Tackles Plastic Waste and Pollution – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology

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This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Malik Amin Aslam Khan, Climate Change Advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan and IUCN Global Vice President


  • To eliminate plastic pollution, banning plastic bags is not enough. Creative solutions are needed to prevent and mitigate plastic waste and pollution.
  • Pakistan’s holistic approach to plastic waste and pollution is an example of how solutions can tackle plastic leakage while supporting the development of a just and inclusive society.

Plastic waste is a global crisis – a crisis that is getting worse every day. Global flows of plastic to the oceans are expected to triple by 2040. And Pakistan alone produced around 3.9 million tonnes of plastic waste in 2020. About 70% of this plastic waste (2.6 million tonnes ) are poorly managed, left in landfills, unmanaged landfills or scattered on land and water bodies across the country.

However, progress is possible. With swift, decisive and collaborative action, it is possible to stem the tide, both literally and figuratively.

Here are four key imperatives that inform our plastic action efforts:

1. Start simple: ban on plastic bags

In 2019, Pakistan became one of 128 countries that have banned single-use plastic (polyethylene) bags. Pakistan’s ban halted production of 600,000 kilograms per year. The success of the ban depended on both awareness of the ban, created by the education campaigns carried out by the Department of Climate Change for citizens and manufacturers, the free distribution of alternative bags and the media coverage of them. Strict enforcement measures taken by the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as access to inexpensive alternatives through the identification of locally produced reusable bags. More importantly, the EPA began to regulate violators at the consumer and manufacturer level, thereby changing behavior. Sanctions have been imposed on the production and sale of plastic bags, with fines ranging from 500,000 to 500,000 Pakistani rupees.

These efforts have had results. A survey conducted after one year in September 2020 showed that 80% of participants believed the ban had increased their knowledge about plastic pollution. Thanks to the regulations, the survey showed that all the traders surveyed had turned to the use of alternative bags.

2. Be creative: new solutions and approaches

Pakistan is committed to identifying and prioritizing innovative system solutions that tackle plastic leakage along the value chain and that support the development of a just and inclusive society. The Clean Green Pakistan Index (CGPI) is a good example. The CGPI, launched in November 2019, aims to improve sanitation services across Pakistan through healthy competition between cities and citizens. The index includes more than 35 performance indicators across five components, including solid waste management, against which cities are ranked each year. The indicators have been designed and finalized with the municipalities, and targets have been set by them aimed at improving governance and increasing the credibility of the data collected.

Citizens participate in the competition through an ICT-based champions program that records voluntary actions to keep cities clean, improve civic amenities and create in them the spirit and feeling of owning their homes and cities. . Top performing cities and citizens are rewarded by the Prime Minister for boosting morale and supporting continuous improvement. After the success of the pilot, the competition was extended to all provinces and regions (93 cities), ensuring that the capacities of the public sector are strengthened to achieve a clean and green Pakistan.

In another example, Pakistan is exploring new coding systems that will facilitate the recycling of post-consumer plastics, providing an opportunity for manufacturers with a consistent system for the identification of resins.

Pakistan has also identified Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) as an effective measure to stem plastic pollution. EPR is a policy approach whereby producers are given significant responsibility – financial and / or physical – for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products. Pakistan, with support from the EU’s SwithAsia program, launched a baseline assessment and contextualized the local adoption mechanism. However, EPR programs aimed at minimizing plastic waste streams do not function as a stand-alone policy and, to be effective, must be accompanied by effective control, as well as other economic incentives such as taxes. In addition, local capacity building is also identified as a priority for the effective deployment of EPR.

3. Investing in Livelihoods: Green Stimulation

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted more than ever the critical need to safeguard and improve livelihoods. Pakistan’s ‘Green Stimulus’ was designed to provide a livelihood for the idle daily bets, including women and youth, and thus focus on the dual purpose of protecting nature and creating green jobs. The programme’s priority focus areas have included planting more trees, extending and revitalizing our protected areas, but it has also been concerned with improving urban sanitation – all of which can generate jobs. while allowing the country to emerge from the crisis on an equal footing. – positive path. The Clean Green Pakistan movement has been reconfigured as part of the program to provide labor-intensive sanitation jobs and conduct advocacy campaigns.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

Climate change is an urgent threat requiring decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising sea levels. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.

To limit the rise in global temperature to well below 2 ° C and as close as possible to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policymakers and civil society put in place short- and long-term global climate actions in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change.Global warming can be defeated with this simple plan

The World Economic Forum Climate Initiative supports the scaling up and acceleration of global climate action through the collaboration of the public and private sectors. The Initiative works on several lines of work to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from diverse sectors developing cost-effective solutions for the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with decision-makers and partner companies to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of a more secure climate.

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4. Action at scale: roadmaps and evidence-based collaboration

Of course, Pakistan still has its work cut out for it if it is serious about eliminating plastic waste. Understanding the need to tackle the root cause of this problem, Pakistan is developing a five-year plan that aims to: adopt innovative plastic waste minimization strategies; increase the reuse and recyclability of plastic waste; initiate operational changes; improve the collection of credible data; and open new avenues for income generation. Executives expect this plan to be in place by mid-2022, marking the conclusion of ICGP Phase III and ICGP third-party oversight, ensuring that analyzes are available for effective implementation of the plan.

Of course, such strategies require additional support in terms of institutional capacity building, technology transfer and monitoring systems. Pakistan believes in an evidence-based approach to assess the amount of plastic waste imported into the country, the amount of plastic recycled and disposed of in the local market and, most importantly, the economic and environmental impacts at ground level to identify the benefits costs of a more circular approach.

To establish a clear baseline and translate its plastics action strategy into action, Pakistan is the latest member country to officially partner with the Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP). In the spirit of Pakistan’s commitment to a “clean and green” Pakistan, we are inspired to take a regional leadership role by joining the pioneer countries of the GPAP, Indonesia, Ghana, Nigeria and Vietnam.

Governments around the world recognize the need to develop national action plans and coordinate actions to accelerate circular plastic solutions. There is an urgent call for evidence-based frameworks that enable countries to regenerate the environment, while protecting the livelihoods of vulnerable communities and providing economic opportunities along the value chain.

By learning from each other and sharing concrete knowledge and experiences, we are in a good position to strengthen our efforts and take effective action.

Bryce K. Locke