Biodegradable plastic bags banned in Cantt


–Ban enforced due to unavailability of mechanism for testing biodegradability

LAHORE: The Walton Cantonment Board (WCB) has decided to ban biodegradable plastic bags within its boundaries due to the unavailability of proper testing and detection of biodegradability of the plastic bags, Pakistan Today has learnt.

Biodegradable materials are added to plastic bags to allow them to decompose quickly as compared to natural decomposition of plastic which takes hundreds of years.

It is worth mentioning here that the WCB, a year ago, had decided to use only biodegradable plastic bags after which all shopkeepers in the area were issued a notification in this regard whereas an awareness campaign about the usage of biodegradable plastic bags was also conducted.

“A year ago, WCB had ordered us to use only biodegradable plastic bags stating that it was the only way to control plastic pollution. They also frequently visited shops and those who were not following the order had their shops sealed,” Hafiz Samad, a shopkeeper of DHA Phase I told this scribe.

Another shopkeeper from Nishat Colony, Muhammad Irfan, while commending the new order said, “The decision of WCB is appreciable because despite the using of degradable bags, the situation of plastic pollution is the same. Most of the bags, despite bearing the stamp of biodegradability were not decomposing.”

“In our country, plastic is not only using in shopping bags but also in all kind of store items such as bread, bakery items, cosmetics, bottles, cigarettes, garments, medicines, etc. There is a need to create awareness among the multinational and local companies to stop the use of plastic,” he added.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, WCB Information Technology Manager Umair Shaukat said, “Yes, we are encouraging people and shopkeepers to refrain from using use any kind of plastic bag whether it is biodegradable or not, because we have no method to ensure that the plastic will decompose.”

“Initially, we made a monitoring and surveillance plan to check the presence of non-biodegradable bags in shops. We divided the whole area under WCB into four zones and formed four teams who were regularly checking the shopkeepers. But the teams were facing issues in monitoring biodegradable bags because it was difficult to say if the bags really were environment-friendly or not. So, we have banned all kind of plastic bags in the area and directed the shopkeepers and citizens to use only paper and jute bags,” he explained.

While answering a question about the other products which are wrapped in plastic, he said, “An association of shopkeepers visited us and they also raised the same issue. We have decided to arrange a meeting with shopkeepers and companies to convince them not to use plastic because it is a major cause of pollution,” he concluded.