Plastic ban – 14 Aug 2022

Plastic bags were long deemed an environmental hazard and their unabated use is now taking a toll on Karachi’s infrastructure, sewerage system and municipal services. Resultantly, the Sindh government has once again initiated plans to enforce an eight-year-old ban on the manufacturing, sale and use of plastic bags. In the past, all such attempts have failed to bring any change because of a lack of implementation and the absence of public awareness about potential hazards. However, the incumbent Administrator of Karachi, Murtaza Wahab, is confident that the efforts will be effective this time around, as the provincial government, the police and other relevant authorities have been taken on board on this matter of grave concern.

Plastic bags are a major reason for the blockage of Karachi’s storm drains. This single-use plastic also ends up in the sea and rivers eventually making its way into the food and water that we consume via microplastics. Globally, many countries have encouraged the use of cloth bags for shopping and retailers are now charging customers for purchasing plastic bags with their groceries to discourage their use. This, coupled with awareness campaigns about the dangers of single-use plastics, has brought significant changes in consumers’ behaviours in the developed world. Thus, the Sindh government must learn from their experience and take similar measures for a desirable outcome.

The plans for a ban have sparked outrage among the plastic bag manufacturers who fear losing their livelihoods. Perhaps, the relevant authorities can assist manufacturers in switching to the production of environment-friendly alternatives. Importantly, the Sindh government must tackle solid waste management as plastic accounts for 65% of the total waste in the country. Thus, the government will be required to engage on multiple fronts to rehabilitate the province’s drainage system and alleviate plastic pollution. These efforts may also encourage other provincial governments to undertake similar measures as plastic pollution is a countrywide problem that must be addressed on a war-footing.

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