Islamabad: Pakistan government is considering strategies to reduce plastic waste imports and bolster recycling capacity to address environmental and human health impacts.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the provincial authorities to formulate a comprehensive plan to reduce reliance on imported plastic through effective waste management.
Citing the example of the Chinese policy of banning the import of waste material, he said the policy could serve as a guide to introduce robust policy measures in Pakistan “to minimize reliance on imported plastic waste and effective recycling and utilization of locally produced waste.” He said that environmental protection is the top most priority of the government under the ‘Clean ad Green Pakistan’ initiative.
Around 30 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) is generated annually in Pakistan. Plastic waste accounts for 10 to 14 per cent of the total waste and it is expected to double by the year 2050.
Only 33 per cent or 1.3 million tons of the total 3.9 million tons of plastic waste generated last year in Pakistan was recycled. Over 70 per cent (2.6 million tons) of the plastic waste generated in the country was not recycled. Nearly 70 per cent of the colossal plastic waste ends in landfills, unmanaged dumps or strewn about land and water bodies, clogging drains and causing urban floods.
Moreover, Pakistan imported 35,651 metric tons of plastic worth Rs. 2.4 billion in FY 2019-20 in four categories including Poly Ethylene (PE), Poly Propylene (PP), Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC), and Poly Ethylene Terephthalate (PET).
PM’s special assistant on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam has said that the government is committed to tackling the growing issue of municipal solid waste landfills that pose a long-lasting risk for humans and the environment. However, he added that the government’s efforts for sustainable plastic waste management would only be successful when various stakeholders, involved in manufacturing, sale and use of plastic materials, play their part too.
Pakistan has the highest percentage of mismanaged plastic in South Asia, according to the climate change ministry. Pakistan’s annual plastic waste generation is expected to increase to 6.12 million tons per annum by the year 2050 as the use of plastic materials is on the rise.
Pakistan has also announced support for innovative recycling initiatives to tackle the country’s mounting waste problem.