“46,000 plastic bags are floating in each square mile of the ocean”

plastic_bagsKARACHI: World is celebrating Environment Day on June 5, 2013, an occasion when people around the globe take measures to save the earth from pollution and other environmental hazards.

But unfortunately in Pakistan we are still facing basic challenges in the quest of saving the environment. In this regard the burning of waste has become the biggest issue for local administrations due to their own negligence and inefficiency, they failed to check the plastic bags which are being used by general public at large which end up choking the sewage systems.

Plastic bags are one of the major problems today as it emits dangerous gases in the environment including carbon dioxide which is not only dangerous for human health but also for other living things, however, lack of proper recycling units lead us to polluted environment.

There is a dire need to raise awareness among the masses in Pakistan to reduce the pollution in the environment mere with their minimum efforts not to utilise the plastic bags, extremely perilous for environment.

Pakistan is ranked 120th out of 130 countries in the world with worst environmental conditions as per a study compiled by University of Columbia in World Economic Forum held in 2012.

Plastic bags are non biodegradable, they clog waterways, spoil the landscape and end up in landfills where they may take 1,000 years or more to break down into smaller particles that continue to pollute the soil and water.

The use of paper bags as a substitute of plastic bags is one of the simple and easier way to minimise the pollution in the society whereas its effect will be positive for the local sanitary system, which usually chock due to plastic bags.

The production of plastic bags requires millions of gallons of petroleum and toxic that emanates air pollution in the environment and spread diseases of lungs and throats. Plastic bags also pose a serious danger to birds and marine mammals that often intake them for food, thousands die each year after swallowing discarded plastic bags.

The federal Ministry for Environment survey shows 95 percent people use plastic bags, 3 percent use paper bags, 1 percent use cloth bags and 1 percent use baskets. The survey suggested 46,000 plastic bags are floating in each square mile of the ocean, which is affecting the marine life and polluting the water.

Around 12 billion plastic bags were used in Pakistan in 1990-91. In 2005-06, the consumption rose to 43 billion and in 2007-08 up to 55 billion.

With 15 percent growth annually in production of plastic bags, the estimated use of plastic bags in the country by 2014-15 would be increased up to 112 billion.

The carbon footprint of per kg plastic is about 6 kg CO2, which multiplied by the number of plastic bags being used per year results in tonnes of carbon dioxide.

There are more than 8,000 manufacturing units of plastic bags spread across the country mostly situated in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar and continue to supply plastic bags to shopkeepers of various goods.

Neither government nor masses pay attention over the impacts of plastic bags as its utility has been raised continuously. Different countries in the world have carried out extensive efforts to reduce environmental pollution and risk of climate change but in Pakistan the condition is depressing due to the negligence of concerned authorities and little awareness among the masses.

Bangladesh and Ireland have banned plastic bags and imposed a tax on its production and consumption, reducing its usage by 90 percent.

Similarly many developed countries already banned completely the use of plastic bags and utilising paper bags instead.

Similar efforts will reduce the hazardous impacts of plastic bags on environment and will help to control toxic chemicals in air, soil and water, saving the lives of birds and marine animals, protecting the sewerage system of the city from disasters and leaving a positive impact on our lives as well as our health.

From Daily Times, Pakistan

Categories: Plastic Pollution, Plastics and marine mammals

Tags: ,

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