Plastic Waste – A Tall-order for Pakistan

LAHORE As the World Environment Day is celebrated, it is high-time that Pakistan follows many other Asian countries that have banned plastic waste import to protect the environment.

The Sustainable Development Report 2019 ranks Pakistan at the 130th position out of 162 countries, with a score 55.6 on Sustainable Development Goals Index.

However, countries from the region like India (115), Thailand (40), and China (39) rank higher in the overall ranking. They have made rapid progress towards achieving the SDGs.

Although there is not a specific focus on plastic pollution in the SDGs, SDG 12 and SDG 14, which are responsible consumption and production, are closely linked to the issue of dealing with plastic waste.

SDG 12: Pakistan scores 92.1. This is just behind India (94.5), but it has done quite well over China (82) or Thailand (79.5). With a score of 47.6, Pakistan is behind both India (51.2), and Thailand (54.7) in SDG 14.

These countries are ahead of Pakistan in SDGs Index and have banned plastic waste imports, keeping in mind its health and environmental hazards. Pakistan is now a major dump site for plastic waste from countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Belgium.

Between January 2019 – April 2020, Pakistan imported approximately 65,000 tons plastic waste. The country’s imports of plastic waste jumped 30% to almost 47,000 tons in 2018.

Imports increased more than 200% in 2017 to 36,000 tonnes, compared to 2016.

Experts claim that Pakistan imports hazardous plastic waste, including powder, granules, and flakes, due to the ineffective implementation and lack of testing by inspection agencies.

These plastic waste imports are considered end-of life and contaminated. They include chemical containers, used sewerage pipes and any other hazardous material.

Pakistan produces seven million tonnes of plastic waste each year. This plastic waste is mainly not recycled and ends in landfills because Pakistan does not have a proper waste management system. Also, its recycling companies are not compliant with international standards.

Importing plastic waste from Pakistan is therefore a major problem. It also poses a huge risk to the health and environment of Pakistani citizens.

It is hoped that government officials will collaborate closely to establish stricter environmental regulations and standards before the publication of the next SDGs Progress Report. This will help to ban plastic waste imports.

The report stated that Pakistan would likely fall behind its neighbors in achieving the SDGs if it does not take this action.

Author: Engr. Husnain SultanEnvironmental Engineer. Passionate to spread awareness regarding current and future environmental crisis.An international consultant, advisor and trainer with expertise in waste management, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, environment protection and resource conservation.

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