ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam on Tuesday said the Federal Cabinet approved the Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) to ban plastic bags in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

“The federal capital would celebrate its freedom from polythene bags on August 14,” he said. Addressing media persons during the cabinet briefing, Aslam said plastic bags had become a menace for society.

“Around 80 per cent of the drains across the country are choked due to plastic bags and are a potential cause of urban flooding and various diseases among the masses. Every city and village have the same issue where plastic bags are proliferating. It will remain in our ecosystem for 1,000 years as polythene bags do not decompose,” he added. Aslam underscored that the legislation had been enacted after thoroughly studying global models implemented to end plastic bag use.

“This [ban on plastic bags] has been practised earlier in 1994, 1995, 2001 and 2013 but could not achieve the set targets due to lacunae in the legislation. However, this time we have taken the initiative from the federal capital and will wholeheartedly enforce the law to get rid of plastic bags,” Aslam said.

Talking about the features of the SRO, he said this was the model being adopted across the world, whereas the ban would be enforced in ICT. It would enable a fine of Rs50,000 (Dh1,148) to Rs500,000 on the manufacturers of plastic bags, the traders of polythene or plastic bags would be fined Rs10,000 to Rs5 million and people found using it would have to pay a fine of Rs5,000, he noted.

“The magnitude of fine has been kept high to make the people realise that we want to get ourselves free from plastic bags,” Aslam said. In 1990, he said 10 million bags were used per year in the country, which had now reached 55 billion bags per year.

The Adviser mentioned that the current population of the country was over 220 million and every individual was using 275 to 300 plastic bags per year.

“These bags are then submerged under the soil and dumped into the drains which consequently get into the sea. A global study revealed that if plastic bags are not avoided for use till 2050 then more plastic bags would be found in the sea instead of fish,” he added.

“We [the ministry of climate change] were also offering alternates for plastic bags which were cotton bags and recyclable, reusable polypropylene plastic bag [which is biodegradable and decomposable], he said, adding, “The ministry has made 100,000 such bags which will be distributed free among the masses across the ICT.”

Aslam said the nation would be made free from plastic bags with Clean Green Pakistan under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision.

“Since the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf under the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s leadership has started to make the country corruption free and clean green. For a clean and green Pakistan we need sustainable development which will be achieved,” he added.

Under the Clean Green idea of Imran, he said we were going to launch our monsoon plantation by the end of this month and it would continue for one and a half months.

“Almost 140 million plants will be planted across the country during this monsoon plantation season whereas 400 events and activities would be held all over the country in this regard,” he said.

The Adviser added that the ministry would launch an awareness campaign for two weeks across ICT to apprise the masses on the plastic bag ban.