EDITORIAL: Plastic is composed of major toxic pollutants that tend to harm the environment, and over some decades it has started to impacting the natural ecosystem negatively, which is creating problems for wildlife and human life alike. According to a study, of about 12 million pieces of litter found in and around rivers, oceans, shorelines and seafloor eight out of 10 are made of plastic.
And 44 percent of this plastic litter related to take-out food and drinks. Single-use bottles, food containers and wrappers, and plastic bags made up the biggest share.
Over the last several years the environmental lobbyists have been trying to persuade the governments to outlaw the single-use plastic items, but not with much success. It is instructive to note that it was on Saturday that Britain’s environment department announced that England would ban a range of single-use plastic items in an effort to limit soaring plastic pollution, and the ban would come into effect in the autumn of 2023. It is said that the new ban would also include single-use plastic trays, balloon sticks and some types of polystyrene cups and food containers.
The decision follows a public consultation by the government in which 95 percent of respondents were in favour of ban. The department seems to have rightly realised that most plastics can remain intact for centuries and damage oceans, rivers and land.
Quite a few countries, including Bangladesh, have banned use of single-use plastic items, and of the South Asian countries Pakistan is last on the list.
According to a two-year-old figure, more than 3.3 million tonnes of plastic is wasted annually in Pakistan, and most of it ends up in landfills, unmanaged dumps or strewn about land and water bodies, choking the cities’ drainage systems and massively contributing to urban flooding. Of course some attempts on the part of concerned authorities are made to control disposal of single-use plastic items, but their plans refuse to climb down from the drawing board.
For instance, in 2020, the government issued an SRO to ban the plastic bags in federal capital and some other cities. But the ban soon succumbed to resistance from the shopkeepers and the shoppers alike. Since governance in today’s Pakistan is intensely politicised no politician is trying to find out why the ban on single-use plastic items has not come into force. Ideally, the civil society and media should raise their voices against the mounting environmental threat posed by toxic plastic.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023