Address scourge of plastic bags

WHAT are the ill-effects of using plastic bags on our environment and surroundings are known even to a layman or a person not much literate but it is unfortunate that the use of these not very easily degradable bags is still on the surge to alarming proportions. Startling revelations to this effect were made by Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan who informed the Senate the other day that as many as fifty five billion plastic shopping bags are being used each year in the country with their use increasing by fifteen percent per annum.
Indeed these plastic bags pose multiple threats. Not only does the production of plastic bags require millions of gallons of petroleum, their unregulated disposal by burning releases lethal toxins causing air pollution and related health issues. Carrying edible goods in plastic bags which is a common practice in our country is also hazardous because of the components of plastic bags. Also these bags pose a serious danger to birds and marine mammals, and several thousands of which die each year, after swallowing discarded plastic bags. The bags also choke up sewage and drainage systems, further aggravating our sanitation management challenges. The situation indeed warrants urgent action to keep our environment clean from these bags and for this our authorities concerned may take some cue from the countries especially the Europeans which used diverse ways to address it. Imposing ban alone will not work as in the past we saw bans were imposed in cities like the federal capital but these did not yield any worthwhile results. The reason as also articulated by the minister of climate change himself is that about 160,000 people are directly and 600,000 are indirectly dependent on this industry. Therefore we will suggest that the government announces a special incentive package to the units producing these bags to switch to the manufacturing of paper, cotton and other biodegradable bags. Then we will also ask the common people to adopt healthy practices, avoid use of shopping bags and rather use the cotton bags which are easily available in the market or can be prepared at home for daily use. Rejection of shopping bags by the people will also force the production units to turn to the manufacturing of biodegradable bags.

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