Govt bans plastic bags in Islamabad: Zartaj Gul

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Pakistan is the seventh most vulnerable country to climate change in the world; before the issue could escalate further the Minister for climate change, Zartaj Gul has formally announced the ban on plastic bags to combat the rising problem.

Zartaj Gul announced a complete ban on single-use plastic bags from 14th August, announcing a hefty fine in the range of Rs. 100,000 and Rs. 500,000 for manufacturers of such plastic bags and urging them to cooperate and adapt with the step.

Plastic production is on an upward trend worldwide and is estimated to be a major hurdle in accomplishing some stated goals of the historic Paris Climate change agreement as it will make up 13% of the total “carbon budget.”

Recognizing the cumulative role of plastic bags in global warming, the minister announced this as an urgent step. She informed the press conference that the move had been made with unanimous support, including that of PM Imran Khan.

According to a report by the Center for International Environmental Law, the effects of plastic bags on climate change are often deliberately hidden. The report comprehensively estimates the carbon footprint of these bags from “cradle to grave” for the first time and cites it as one of the major bulwarks in stopping the rise of world temperatures by more than 1.5C, a stated goal of the international community.

Plastic is notorious for its footprint not only because it refuses to decompose, but because every stage of its production and refinement is a high-emission activity. Pakistan, with its gargantuan population of 220 million people and growing, can make a reasonable dent in this scenario. Islamabad, where the average resident uses 3-4 plastic bags a day, is a great place to start.

Zartaj Gul suggests reusable plastic bags and cloth bags as replacements which the government will also assist in making widely available. “Implementation will be strict, and raids will be carried out with the assistance of law enforcement,” she said.

She added that she hopes the media and civil society would support and promote the government narrative on protecting the environment. Zartaj Gul expressed her conviction that this was a step that was urgently required and added that “Plastic bags are the biggest problem in choking drains, sewerage systems and streams.”

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