New regulations allowing manufacture, import of flat polythene bags criticised.

Byline: Ikram Junaidi

ISLAMABAD -- Environmentalists have criticised new regulations banning polythene bags in the capital because it will allow for flat polythene bags to be imported and manufactured.

However, Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) Director General Farzana Altaf Shah has said the regulations are a 'gift' for Islamabad residents, and will be imposed on June 5, the first day of Eid.

According to a draft of the Pak-EPA Ban on (Manufacturing, Import, Sale, Purchase, Storage and Usage) Polythene Bag Regulations 2019 available with Dawn, the regulations will extent to the Islamabad Capital Territory.

The draft states: 'All manufacturing, import and wholesale trading of polythene bags shall be banned from 5th June, 2019.

'All sale, purchase, supply, trade, storage, distribution and use of polythene bags shall be banned from 14th August, 2019.'

However, section IV states that the manufacturing or import of flat polythene bags will be permitted for industrial packing, primary industrial packing, municipal waste, hospital waste and hazardous waste.

Dr Imran Khalid, an environmentalist associated with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, told Dawn that he supports the ban on polythene bags because they choke waterways and do not decompose for hundreds of years since they are not biodegradable.

'Moreover, those bags are hazardous and are banned in a number of countries. However, allowing the import and manufacturing of flat polythene bags have created doubts in the minds of a number of stakeholders.

'Although a meeting was held at the Ministry of Climate Change in which some people gave their input, I believe detailed deliberation should be held because those regulations may be adopted by the provinces at a later stage,' he said.

'The second issue is that there can be Western interests of some elements who want to introduce flat polythene bags in the market. I suggest that there should be a waste management policy in Pakistan. As the regulations are being implemented in a hurry, I fear they may not be fruitful,' Dr Khalid said.

Munir Ahmed, who also works on environmental issues, said the proposed regulations have two parts.

The first part explicitly bans all types of plastic bags from June 5, with a cut-off date for a complete ban on the sale of use of plastic bags within the jurisdiction of the ICT, which was welcomed.

'The second part of the same legislation intends to authorise the plastic industry to...

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