The minister for climate change, Zartaj Gul has said that the government is considering to ban the use of single-use plastic polythene bags in Islamabad by August 14 this year. Earlier, Sindh government had imposed a ban on manufacturing, sale, purchase, and use of polythene bags in 1994. Punjab did the same in 1995 while Balochistan put a complete ban on polythene bags in 2001. The Khyber Pakhtunwa administration has also recently banned them.
The minister further apprised the National Assembly that her ministry has also taken measures discouraging exorbitant use of plastics in the government departments, which include a ban on single-time-use polythene bags and PET bottles in the Ministry of Climate Change.
The minister also told that the ministry has dispersed cotton bags among its officials, the parliamentarians, and the media personnel as an alternative to plastic bags. As much as 5000 cotton bags have been produced for distribution among the federal government employees free of cost. These bags were also set to be distributed in Sunday and Friday bazaars in the capital free of cost to the public. The ministry is also planning to raise awareness regarding the use and hazards of single-use plastics.
Despite a ban on the manufacture, import, and sale of non-biodegradable plastic bags, their usage is on a rise in Pakistan. A survey report of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) reveals that as many as 55 billion plastic bags are used annually. Moreover, their usage is increasing every year by 15 percent.
The report further states that there are over eight thousand plastic bag manufacturing units in Pakistan. The average daily production of these units ranges between 250 kg and 500 kg. The latest report by EPD states that the worldwide consumption of these bags amount to five trillion out of which around thirteen million tons of plastic bags go to the sea, impacting the marine life. Every year, around 0.1 million marine animals lose their lives by swallowing plastic.