The fight against plastic pollution requires the implementation of laws; Alternative Jobs to Businessmen

Baffled by PTI government legislation to tackle plastic pollution, Muhammad Yousaf, a 60-year-old shopkeeper, worried about his children’s education and other expenses in case his stocks of plastic bags did not run out in the mandatory six-month deadline set by the government.

PESHAWAR, (UrduPoint/Pakistan Point News – July 20, 2022): Baffled by PTI government legislation to tackle plastic pollution, sixty-year-old trader Muhammad Yousaf was worried about the education and other expenses of his children in case its stocks of the plastic bags have not been sold within the mandatory six-month deadline set by the government.

Assisted by his son Arshad Khan in his plastic bag business in Firdus Bazar, Muhammad Yousaf who was extremely upset after the adaptation of the KP (Amendment) Environmental Protection Bill 2022 under which preparation, delivery, storage, import, sale and purchase of plastic bags were prohibited in KP, said, “The PTI government has made this decision in a hurry while ignoring the hardships and problems of thousands people affiliated with the company.

“Where will we go,” he asked, adding that under the new bill, the trader could be jailed for six months and fined up to 500,000 rupees.

He said the provincial government should have consulted and given confidence to merchants and polybag manufacturers before the bill was passed, in addition to providing them with other options for change.

Yousaf said he had employed six workers in his shop and would find it difficult to pay the wages if the polyethylene stock was not sold.

Javed Gul Safi, another plastic bag trader, told APP that about 70 plastic shops are affiliated with the company in the city and they run the business from partition, adding that restricting the business was unjustified.

“Such an unpopular and unaccepted decision was not expected from the PTI government, which was given the mandate to solve the problems of the masses rather than adding woes to their miseries,” he remarked.

He said 50kg plastic bags were sold at around 10,000 rupees in the market and if their stocks were not sold, hundreds of thousands of laborers would lose their jobs, adding that they had already paid advances to manufacturers in Lahore and other towns in the country and several traders took out loans to expand their business and meet their finances.

Safi said about 20 polythene bag makers operated in the Hayatabad industrial area with hundreds of workers and the new law would not only hurt their business but also render hundreds of families jobless under such circumstances. difficult when inflation was so high in the country.

Latifur Rehman, spokesperson for the Department of Environment and Forestry, while advocating for the adaptation of the KP Environmental Protection Bill 2022 (Amended), said that large-scale production and l he excessive use of plastic products around the world, including in Pakistan, has created environmental challenges for humans, wildlife and aquatic life.

He fears that plastic waste in canals, rivers and oceans could drastically decrease the production of fish and other marine life if its dumping continues on such an alarming scale. According to the United Nations Environment Program, each year around 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide, where around eight million tonnes of plastic end up in canals, rivers and oceans, which is equivalent to a truck full of garbage every minute in the world.

Similarly, around 60 million plastic bags were purchased per hour, and only 14% of the total used was recycled while the rest was thrown into the oceans.

Latifur Rehman said that under the KP Environmental Protection (Amendment) Bill 2022, a ban on all types of plastic bags has been imposed. It said six months was given to all its industrial units, retailers, traders and traders to dispose of their plastic stocks.

He said all licenses and permits for the preparation of plastic bags, sale and purchase in addition to transportation have been revoked and strict action will be taken against violators. Under the bill, he said six months imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh could be imposed.

An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official said polythene plastic bags have been a major contributor to plastic pollution since such bags were introduced to the market in 1960. In Pakistan, where about three to five billion plastic bags were produced per year, contributing nine percent of plastic waste out of approximately 30 million tons of solid waste generated in the country.

An EPA official said about 6,000 plastic factories were operating in the country, mostly located in Punjab (60%), followed by Sindh (30%), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (7%) and Balochistan ( 3%), adding that 18 registered plastic manufacturing companies in addition dozens of other unregistered companies operated in Peshawar.

“We asked plastic companies to use one percent ‘D2W’ chemical in plastic bags as an ingredient to attract bacteria to ensure its easy biodegradation within a few years, but plastic companies did on deaf ears,” he said.

“Black polythene bags are more dangerous to humans due to repeated use without proper recycling, exposing consumers to serious conditions including intestinal infections, vomiting, digestive problems and premature births.” Polythene bags take 100 to 1500 years to completely decompose in the ground and have drastic effects on living beings mainly in third world countries, especially in the SAARC region, he added. .

Muhammad Riaz, a medical specialist, said that microplastic cannot be seen with the naked eye and when in contact with heat it turns into smaller particles causing air pollution and is part of the cycle food of humans, fish, wildlife and mammals in landing and endangering their lives.

He said most urban waste management companies focus on collecting waste from communal bins in urban areas, but neglect canals, rivers and oceans where plastic waste is mainly disposed of and once are burned, dangerous gases like dioxins and furances pollute the air. He said plastic and water pollution of the Kabul and Swat rivers had endangered Mahsher and trout populations.

He said huge investments were needed for the installation of China-style waste-to-energy units to convert plastic waste into energy, adding that at least 10 million rupees were needed for the establishment of a plant with a capacity to generate five megawatts of energy.

Mumtaz Malik, former KP Chief Wildlife Curator, said that plastic pollution has a global and far-reaching impact on the international, regional and local environment, ecosystems, wildlife, livestock and marine life and that a great responsibility rests with the UN to help developing and developing countries, especially SAARC in the fight against plastic pollution.

He said local industry should be encouraged to produce eco-friendly biodegradable plastics, in addition to strengthening waste management companies in terms of finance, manpower and equipment for proper disposal. fast plastic waste.

Dr Mumtaz suggested that city councils and waste management companies reach out to communities to raise awareness about the threat of plastic pollution.

He said users need to be sensitized to understand the seriousness of this impending problem for which the role of the media is essential and urged consumers to use cloth bags to make the planet a peaceful abode for future generations.

Bryce K. Locke