World Environment Day to highlight plastic pollution | Pakistan Today

World Environment Day to highlight plastic pollution

  • WWF calls plastic pollution a big nuisance to planet’s biodiversity

LAHORE: Like other factors which polluting the environment, plastic has also become a growing disaster and that is why nations around the globe are observing the World Environment Day with a theme to beat the plastic pollution.

The World Environment Day will be observed today (June 5), and is the UN’s principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of the environment. The experts said the plastic was a material that cannot be biodegrade and can be last forever and it was being used across the world with an increase on daily basis.

Every year, one million plastic bottles are purchased in every minute around the world while it uses up to five trillion disposable plastic bags. Many countries have adopted the way to cope with the plastic pollution but they are still concerned to get rid the menace of this kind of material.

The most common usage of plastic can be seen in the shape of polythene bags, water bottles, straws and many other items are being packaged in the plastic materials. Studies showed that the polythene bags end up as litter that fouls the landscape and kill thousands of marine mammals every year that mistake the floating bags for food.

In Pakistan, the plastic bags became popular in 1980s. This industry flourished due to very low expenditures to install this technology at homes to make the bags. But soon, the material related to the polythene started showing its aftereffects. In 1993, the Cabinet Division banned the use of the plastic bags but violations remained at full swing.

According to a study, the manufacturing of the polythene bags had projected at more than 110 billion a year by 2015 where more than one million people were involved directly or indirectly with this business. At that time around, about 10,000 polythene bag units were working across the country.

In January, former Climate Change minister Mushahidullah Khan had informed the Senate Committee that as many as 55 billion plastic shopping bags were being used each year in Pakistan with their use increasing by 15 percent per year. “About 8,021 production units of these bags with an average production capacity of 250-500 kilograms per day and majority of them was cottage industry,” he said while showing his helplessness to implement the ban.

WWF-PAKISTAN REACTS: According to experts, the toxic chemicals leach out of plastic and are found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us while such chemicals are linked to cancer, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments. World Wide Fund (WWF-Pakistan) Director General Hammad Naqi called the plastic pollution a big nuisance to the biodiversity of the planet.

Talking to Pakistan Today, he said that despite some easiness in human life the plastic had posed serious threats to human and animals and marine life in particular. “Plastic pollution in marine water bodies has caused countless deaths of aquatic life and this also affects the aquatic plants to a considerable rate,” he said.

He was of the view that this was the far most responsibility of the authorities to make a suitable policy to beat plastic pollution. He said that the concept of 3R (reduce, reuse and recycle) must be applied in this regard. College of Earth and Environmental Sciences Principal Dr Sajid Rashid told Pakistan Today that products made of plastics were destroying the ecosystem as most of the plastics were made from petroleum or natural gas, non-renewable resources extracted and processed using energy-intensive techniques.

During recent years, he said the plastic pollution has become more devastating than the air pollution as it posing its diverse effect to the agricultural sector while aquifer life has become at the stack. On other hands, the Punjab Environment Protection Department still confused in making in regulation to reduce plastic pollution despite the Lahore High Court’s order of 2008 which ordered the provincial government to pose ban on the use of the plastic bags.

However, Punjab EPA spokesman Naseem-ur-Rehman Shah informed Pakistan Today that the officials had deeply studied that effective ways of adopting or amending the legislation. He said that increasing the thickness of the plastic bags was a viable option while the department was considering the option of promulgating the oxo-biodegradable concept plastic bags.

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