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KP’s eco-friendly step

IN yet another environment friendly step that should be emulated by other provinces as well, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has banned the use of plastic bags in the entire province with directions issued to district administrations to take strict action and impose heavy fines on those producing or selling these non-biodegradable bags.
After the successful tree plantation campaign which increased forest cover in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, this is another important initiative taken by the PTI government to protect environment from plastic bags that are greatly harming our environment and natural resources including streams, rivers, seas and fertile agriculture land. These bags take much longer to degrade than paper bags. Under best circumstances, high-density polythene bags will take more than 20 years to degrade and this is the reason that several countries across the world including those in Africa have completely banned plastic bags. In our country also, ban was imposed on these bags in different provinces in the past yet this was never implemented in letter and in spirit due to by concerned departments and the result is that these bags are still being used by our people to carry and store essential commodities. According to studies storing food in plastic bags is also dangerous for health as plastics are not natural materials and their manufacturing process involves a cocktail of harmful chemicals that seep into the stored food and contaminate it. Despite unimaginable hazards of these bags, the fact of matter is that we still use around 55 billion plastic shopping bags each year with 15 per cent increase per annum.
According to Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency’s over 760,000 people were dependent on this industry directly or indirectly. Therefore, apart from taking punitive action against producers and sellers of these bags, the KP government also needs to take steps that ensure availability of Paper or biodegradable bags in our markets and shops. Those producing plastic bags should be provided resources to turn their businesses to manufacturing biodegradable bags. Campaign should also be launched at a mass scale to create awareness amongst the masses about hazards of plastic bags. A holistic approach will help provincial government to achieve this target. Other federating units also need to take practical steps towards this end in order to reverse the course of environmental degradation and provide a clean and green country to future generations.