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14 August 2019, 7:00 am

Pakistan Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags

Pakistan Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags

In July, the coalition government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has been in power for the past year, announced a ban on disposable plastic bags in Islamabad and surrounding areas, including Saidpur. "When the ban takes effect on Aug. 14, residents may be fined about $70 for being caught using a bag -- nearly a month's wages for a laborer," reports NPR. "Manufacturers will face larger fines for making plastic bags, as will shops for distributing them." Pakistani provinces have imposed bans on single-use plastic bags in the past, but they have faltered. The current government hopes this time will be different. From the report: According to Hammad Shamimi, a senior official at the Ministry of Climate Change, "Polythene bags have been banned. There is a provision that for hospital waste, for municipal waste, big bags will be exempted ... subject to the condition that they will submit a recycling plan to this ministry." Aug. 14 is Pakistan's independence day, and the ban will celebrate the beginning of Pakistan's independence from plastic, says Zartaj Gul Wazir, the minister of state for climate change. Looming in the minds of environmentalists and officials is nearly a decade of failed attempts to ban single-use plastic bags. The provincial government of Sindh -- home to Karachi, the country's largest city, with some 13 million people -- first tried to ban bags in 2006. It largely failed. Then in 2009, the federal government tried to ban plastic bags that did not contain biodegradable materials. It failed. The Sindh government tried again in 2014 to ban the bags -- effectively copying the federal government's law, says Waris Ali Gabol, the deputy director of the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency. It also failed. The climate minister, Wazir, says that this new ban will be more likely to succeed because it has the full backing of the prime minister, Khan, who has thrown himself behind environmental projects in the past. Khan's political party, for example, was part of a provincial government that planted over 700 million trees for the three years ending in 2017, earning praise from the Pakistani branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature.

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