Violation of laws and plastic industry in Pakistan


Plastics industry is one of the leading business sectors in Pakistan, growing at an average growth rate of 15% per annum. But, recent manufacturing trends show the rampant violation of laws and regulations, especially related with processing, manufacturing and recycling of hazardous plastic materials in the country.
As significant number of local plastics manufacturers are using the plastic waste to produce finished plastic products and articles, this shows not only the unabated imports of plastic waste, but also the continuous violation of the import policy order. It also violates the Basel Convention that defines end of life plastic product as hazardous as it contains contaminants and constituents material that falls in Hazard Class 6 and 9 of the Convention, and should be immediately sent back to the importing country.
In Pakistan, according to Import Policy Order via SRO (I) 2011, “Waste, parings and scrap of plastics are importable by manufacturers only for their own use subject to the condition that shall furnish to custom authorities a certificate from relevant government agency of the exporting countries that the goods are not hazardous and comply with the provisions of the Basel Convention.
As per Import policy order of other developing countries such as Malaysia & China, import of plastic scrap is allowed to manufacturer against license which is issued after detailed inspection of recycling facility, while in India, only the import of post-production plastic scrap is allowed to licensed manufacturers.
In China, plastic scrap is listed in ‘Restricted Imports’ as per Catalogue of Imported Waste Management. In China, the import of hazardous waste is forbidden, and non hazardous plastic scrap can only be imported by licensed manufacturer for its own use if it is imported by licensed importer in exporting country.
In India, as per Policy circular 20/2002- 2007 and public notice 392 dated 1st January 1997 by Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce India, virgin or new plastic scrap waste (except PET bottle waste/ Scrap) generated during production process can only be imported against license, hence post-consumer-waste or end-of-life scrap cannot be imported. In Malaysia, as per Order 2008 & Custom Act 1967, plastic scrap is included in ‘prohibited articles’, and can be imported subject to import license issued from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia.
Pakistan, during the last 5 years, has recorded 100% increase in the imports of plastic scrap, and only in 2011 Pakistan imported more than 50k tons of plastic scrap from the other countries. According to ‘Quarterly Trade Bulletin-FY 2011’ issued by USAID-Pakistan Trade Project, import of plastic materials in Pakistan grew by 18.55% during FY 2010-2011. As the imported plastic scrap contains higher amount of contamination residuals, pest dumps, germs & infections, pesticides and food particles, including many other hazardous chemicals and additives, many countries have totally banned such imports, or have taken strict measures to make sure that the imported plastic waste should be utilised only for the industrial consumption after proper cleaning and sanitization, as stated by the international plastics manufacturing standards.
Despite the aforementioned policies, local plastics manufacturers in Pakistan are heavily producing those plastics and plastics-based items for both domestic and industrial consumptions that contain higher amounts of several hazardous elements and component
Plastic industry in Pakistan is not heading in the right and positive direction, because repeated negligence to well-defined policies is paving the way for the unrestrained import of hazardous plastics scrap into the country. As clearly defined by the Basel Convention, plastic scrap should be sent back to the importing country. Thus, both Basel Convention and Import Policy Order, including other relevant laws and regulations regarding the import and manufacturing of plastics, should be strictly followed by both government and private sectors.