Plastic waste
A new study has called on Pakistan to take urgent steps to tackle the threat of plastic waste. Image Credit: shutterstock

Islamabad: Pakistan is facing an imminent environmental threat in the form of plastic waste and there is neither any proper way nor a scientifically-developed mechanism for plastic waste management/disposal.

These views were expressed by participants and environment experts at the launch ceremony of Pakistan’s first-ever research study on plastic waste management. The study was conducted by the WWF-Pakistan with support of the Coca-Cola Foundation.

By 2050 our sea will have more plastic than fish

According to the study, if we allowed plastic waste to continuously sweep into our sea waters, in the next two decades there would be more plastic than fish in the sea.

In Pakistan, the study points out almost every second item is made of plastic ranging from personal use items like razors, cell phones to automobile parts. These products also include Polyethylene Terephthalate or PET food containers, consumer electronics so on and so forth.

Among other uses of plastic, PET bottles and shopping bags are the most extensively used items and a major source of single-use plastic pollution, reveals the study.

It also emphasises the need to formalise plastic recycling and bridge the gap between distributors and recyclers ensuring products are manufactured from responsibly sourced materials.

The participants were of the view that if no quick action was taken all the government’s efforts to counter impact of the environmental degradation and global warming were bound to meet failure.

Data collected from 10 cities

For the study, data was collected through interviews and survey questionnaires to analyse PET consumption, collection, disposal and recycling patterns in 10 selected cities across Pakistan.

These included Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar, Gilgit, Murree, Rahim Yar Khan, Multan, Gujranwala and Faisalabad.

The research aims to guide federal and provincial governments and stakeholders in policy planning, so that the issue of plastic waste management can be addressed much more effectively.

The study also encourages PET bottles recycling as an effective solution to tackling Pakistan’s plastic waste pollution and it will also help create a circular economy of reusable plastic.

While welcoming the study report, Pakistan’s junior minister for climate change, Zartaj Gul observed it was the first time that the corporate sector had conducted a formal research related to sustainable practices and showed commitment towards its responsibility for the environment.

“I completely endorse their ambition for this cause and to tackle the issue of plastic waste management it is essential that all stakeholders work together and come up with such innovative solutions,” she said.

World oceans receive 8m tons plastic every year

While highlighting the importance of this report, Hammad Naqi Khan, CEO at WWF-Pakistan said, “Around 8 million tons of plastics are dumped in the oceans every year.