4 ways in which Pakistan is tackling pollution caused by plastic waste

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Banning plastic bags is not enough, creative solutions are needed

One of the world’s most critical crises is the ever-escalating amount of plastic waste. By 2040, global ocean plastic pollution is anticipated to quadruple.   Around 2.6 million metric tonnes of plastic garbage are mismanaged, abandoned in landfills, uncontrolled dumps, or scattered throughout the country’s land and waterways.

Progress is still conceivable, however. It is possible to stop the tide both physically and symbolically with quick, decisive, and concerted action.

Four key imperatives,

Start Simple:

Plastic bag ban

Pakistan joined 128 other nations in banning single-use plastic bags in 2019. The annual production of 600,000 kg was terminated due to the ban imposed by Pakistan. An effective ban on plastic bags in Pakistan relied on both public knowledge of the ban, which was developed through Ministry Climate Change-led educational efforts for people and manufacturers, free distribution of alternative bags, and media coverage of tough enforcement measures imposed by the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the identification of locally manufactured reusable bags as a cheap alternative.

The EPA began regulating both consumers and manufacturers, affecting behavior. Fines ranged from 500 to 500,000 Pakistani rupees for plastic bag manufacturing and sale.

Efforts like this paid off. In September 2020, 80% of the participants in a study found that the ban on single-use plastics had improved their understanding of the issue. The survey found that all of the stores polled had made the switch to utilizing alternate bags as a result of regulation.

Be Creative:

New solutions and approaches

Pakistan is dedicated to discovering and promoting innovative, systemic solutions to plastic leakage across the value chain that support a fair and inclusive society. CGPI is an example. The CGPI, started in November 2019, aims to enhance Pakistan’s sanitation services via healthy competition. The Index ranks cities yearly on more than 35 performance factors, including solid waste management. The municipalities established and finalized the indicators and set objectives for enhanced governance and data trustworthiness.

Citizens engage in the competition through an ICT-based champion’s programme that records volunteer activities to keep communities clean, improve civic facilities, and instill a feeling of ownership in them. Prime minister rewards top-performing cities and residents to raise morale and sustain development. After a successful pilot, the competition was expanded to all provinces and regions (93 cities), assuring 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 resin identification.

Invest in Livelihoods:

Green stimulus

The COVID-19 issue has underlined the need to protect and enhance livelihoods like never before. When it came to Pakistan’s “Green Stimulus,” the goal was to provide work for those who had been infected by the virus, particularly women and young people, as well as to safeguard environment.

Planting more trees and extending and revitalizing our protected areas were among the program’s intervention priorities, but it also focused on improving urban sanitation, which may create jobs while also allowing the country to emerge from the crisis on a path that is nature-positive.

 As part of the package, the Clean Green Pakistan Movement was reorganized to provide jobs in the sanitation industry and to conduct public awareness initiatives.

Scale Action:

Evidence-based roadmaps and collaboration

Pakistan has a long way to go before it can claim to have eliminated all plastic garbage. A five-year strategy is being developed in Pakistan to address the core cause of this problem by implementing novel plastic waste reduction measures, increasing plastic waste’s re-use and recyclability, instituting operational reforms, and enhancing trustworthy data gathering. After CGPI phase III and third-party monitoring of CGPI are completed in mid-2022, leaders expect this strategy to be in place, guaranteeing that analytics are accessible for successful execution of the plan.

Such techniques need capacity-building, technology transfer, and monitoring mechanisms. Pakistan uses an evidence-based method to examine plastic trash imported into the nation, recycled and disposed of plastic in the local market, and economic and environmental repercussions at the ground level to discover the economic benefits of a more circular approach.

Pakistan joined the Global Plastic Action Partnership to develop a clear baseline and implement its plastic action strategy (GPAP).

 In the spirit of Pakistan’s dedication to a “Clean and Green” country, we are encouraged to join early-adopter GPAP nations Indonesia, Ghana, Nigeria, as well as Viet-Nam.

Governments throughout the globe are developing national action plans to advance circular plastic solutions. Evidence-based frameworks are needed to help governments regenerate the environment while safeguarding vulnerable groups’ livelihoods and providing economic possibilities across the value chain.

By sharing information and experience, we can increase our efforts and take action.

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Nismah Naveed Bhatti
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