PAKISTAN – Prime Minister’s Coordinator on Climate Change Romina Khurshid Alam calls for a ban on the production, distribution, and use of polythene, citing its detrimental environmental impact and contribution to respiratory ailments.

In a press statement, she highlighted the importance of public engagement through awareness campaigns to reduce plastic waste and promote sustainable alternatives.

“Without engaging the public about the adverse impacts of plastics on the environment and public health, the country cannot eliminate plastic pollution,” she cautioned.

The PM’s aide urged provincial governments to promote eco-friendly alternatives, such as cotton bags while appealing to citizens to switch to cloth and paper bags.

According to Alam, plastic waste has become a major pollutant, contaminating land, water bodies, and oceans and taking hundreds to thousands of years to decompose.

She pointed out that plastic production and disposal contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, as plastic production relies heavily on fossil fuels, and incineration releases carbon dioxide and other harmful gases.

She assured that the government is actively incentivizing the production and use of biodegradable and eco-friendly alternatives to plastic.

“Manufacturers and retailers are being encouraged to transition to sustainable materials, with tax benefits and subsidies provided to support this shift,” she said.

Significant investments are also being made to enhance the country’s waste management infrastructure, including the establishment of more recycling facilities, better waste segregation practices, and increased capacity for plastic waste processing.

Alam urged businesses to support the government’s efforts to make the country plastic-free. “Reducing plastic use, improving waste management, and transitioning to sustainable alternatives are essential steps to mitigate the harmful impacts of plastics on the environment, human health, and the economy,” she stressed.

The climate change coordinator praised the ban on plastic bags in Punjab and urged other provinces to follow suit.

“Imposing the ban on plastic bags in Punjab was a long-awaited move to address the hazardous effects of plastic on the environment and human health,” she said.

“Achieving a plastic-free Pakistan is an extremely challenging goal, but it is possible with coordinated efforts by all provincial governments to completely ban the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of plastics in all forms and manifestations at all levels,” Romina Khurshid Alam remarked.

Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz enforced the province-wide ban on plastics on June 5, coinciding with World Environment Day.

However, the use of plastic continues across the province. Alam recalled that when the ban on plastics was imposed in Islamabad, all provincial, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir governments were requested to impose a plastic ban in their respective territories as part of the federal government’s ‘Plastic-Free Pakistan’ campaign.

“Now it is heartening to note that all provincial governments are making efforts to rid the country of environmentally damaging plastics to achieve the goal of a plastics-free Pakistan,” she said.

She acknowledged the challenges faced in implementing the ban in the federal capital, including business resistance, a lack of alternatives, and enforcement issues.

This initiative aims to steer the country towards becoming plastic-free.

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