Highlighting plastic pollution, challenges in Pakistan – Latest News – The Nation

Introduction: Plastics are synthetic or semi-synthetic materials made from a wide variety of polymers that can be molded easily into a shape while being flexible and then put into a rigid or slightly elastic shape. Adaptability along with a wide range of beneficial properties such as lightness, durability and flexibility, along with cheap production processes have led to widespread adoption in contemporary society.
The success and dominance of plastics has led to widespread environmental problems due to their slow decomposition in natural ecosystems. In order to combat plastic waste, world governments and non-governmental organizations have begun adopting recycling strategies to assuage environmental concerns while continuing to generate mass production of plastic. Most of the plastics produced have not been reused because they are either captured in landfills or linger in the environment as plastic pollution. It can be found in all major bodies of water in the world like oceans, seas, lakes and rivers.
The world has a plastic problem, and it’s snowballing, but so does public awareness and action. Many governments and non-governmental organizations around the world are playing their part in reducing plastic pollution by changing their policies and imposing laws such as banning single-use plastic products and introducing modern methods of recycling plastics. plastic waste. Campaigns through the mass media on the world of plastic and its prevention are also fashionable in the context of climate change and the threat of global warming, because according to the report of the Center for International Environmental Law, plastic contributes greenhouse gases the equivalent of 850 million tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2019 and annual emissions will reach 1.34 billion tonnes by 2030. (Sweeping New Report on Global Environmental Impact of Plastics Reveals Severe Damage to Climate, 2019)
On the contrary, where developed countries are somewhat successful in implementing laws and coming up with strategies to tackle plastic pollution, developing countries are failing to create mass awareness and effective methods to tackle plastic pollution. against plastic waste. Like many countries, Pakistan also faces the problem of plastic pollution. More than 3.3 million tons of plastic are wasted every year in Pakistan and most of it ends up in landfills, unmanaged dumps or scattered on lands and water bodies across the country. (Gul, 2020)
In Pakistan, the minority elite have more influence over resources and are therefore less concerned about the consequences of the waste they produce each year. On the other hand, the middle class only cares about getting rid of plastic waste from their immediate environment while the lower class does not care about it at all. Lack of education and awareness in Pakistan along with poor waste management and law enforcement is one of the factors behind plastic pollution. No effective substitute is available to consumers at present. In addition, it is difficult to convince people to adopt new habits such as the use of cloth or paper bags, metal straws and the minimal use of single-use plastic products. The old method of burning plastic waste is still practiced in the country and adds to the overall pollution in the plastic world. Poor enforcement of laws against the use of plastic bags is one of the main causes of its spread. Awareness and attention are required for the uneducated. Additionally, alternative strategies and effective law enforcement can reduce plastic pollution. (Joseph, Kumar, Majgi, Kumar, and Prahalad, 2016)
In urban areas, plastic is a threat due to overuse of its products as it can survive in the environment for hundreds of years without breaking down. It is used in packaging, construction, transportation, electrical appliances, industries and many more. However, municipal and industrial waste is the main contributor to plastic pollution. In Pakistan, 6% of waste is made up of plastic and is dumped in landfills. Urban areas of Pakistan eg Lahore is a metropolitan city and a center of industrialization. The water bodies surrounding Lahore are filled with plastic, especially the Chenab River. Lack of waste management, adequate sewage system and recycling facilities is the main cause of plastic pollution in urban areas. (Irfan, Qadir, Mumtaz and Ahmad, 2020)
Various brands from Pakistan have taken the initiative to introduce cloth bag or seed bag to fight against plastic pollution and this is also raising awareness. Pakistan lags behind in recycling and planning. Urban areas have a poor waste management system while in rural areas it is non-existent. Over the years, paper and plastic are used more than iron and glass due to their low cost, which leads to waste and pollution, highlighting that Pakistan is becoming a disposable society due to the increase of wealth. If proper recycling industries are established in Pakistan, it will not only create employment opportunities but also increase incomes. (Batool, Chaudhry and Majeed, 2008)
In 2019, the Pakistani government took the initiative to ban single-use plastic bags to ensure environmental sustainability. Additionally, some institutions have gone a step further and changed their lifestyles by eliminating plastic products like plastic bottles and plastic-packaged foods as much as possible and promoting plastic recycling. The World Bank in Pakistan has suggested the idea of ​​3Ps i.e. the practice and policy of people to tackle plastic pollution. (Javed and Khaliq, 2019)
Pakistan has been fighting plastic pollution for more than ten years now. Meanwhile, various single-use plastic bag ban policies have been imposed, such as those of 2006 and 2009 by the Sindh government, both of which failed miserably due to poor law enforcement and the supply of any substitute. In 2014, the ban was imposed again, but the government failed to publicize it effectively because many people were unaware of it. Additionally, shopkeepers used fake stamps suggesting their bags were biodegradable, but police didn’t have the equipment to test it in the first place. If the government plans to ban the plastics industry, it has no intention of compensating the workers. Pakistan’s problem is not plastic pollution but waste management and recycling. (Hadid, 2019)
In South Asia, economic progress and changing people’s lifestyles are leading to a rapid increase in plastic pollution. In Pakistan, plastic is cheap, readily available, durable, tough, and widely used. Disposable and low-cost plastic products are discarded without any hesitation among which plastic bags are the main component and account for 45.72% of the total plastic waste. Rag pickers collect valuable plastic waste for scavengers and are paid a stipulated amount of Rs 15-20 per month. As long as people in big cities manage waste from their homes by paying waste management authorities, worrying about landfill waste is the least of their worries, while people in rural areas manage their waste independently. (Ahmed, Mehmood, Noor and Bahadar, 2020)
Conclusion and
Recommendations
It has been concluded that plastic pollution is as threatening as climate change and global warming. It is a global problem and the world has very little time to prevent it otherwise it will take the form of an uncontrollable risk. The accumulation of plastic and the severity of the problem will increase exponentially with the increase in global plastic production and consumption. The world must therefore change its consumption patterns. The inclusion of recycling, waste prevention and illegal dumping are some of the reasons for plastic waste. Growing concern over plastic pollution and growing momentum has already led to a groundbreaking global agreement. Banning single plastic products or just plastic bags is not enough. An immediate substitute is the time needed for the global community to come together to create an environmentally friendly plastic replacement that has similar benefits.
In addition, people’s perception of plastic and its pollution does not correspond to the current state of the world. Their habits and demand for plastic, without thinking about the lasting impacts it could have on the environment, is irrational. Awareness campaigns against plastic have a profound impact on the literate community, especially as disadvantaged people do not necessarily care about the environment around them. Countries like Pakistan lack proper law enforcement agencies and policies to tackle issues like plastic pollution. People lack sense of responsibility and lack of waste management system, active administrations and recycling industries lead to the problem of piled up plastic waste.

Perception of the plastic world

Bryce K. Locke