Plastic bags banned in two sectors of Islamabad

Pakistan’s plastic industry’s 15 per cent annual growth posing serious environment pollution threat in urban and rural areas

Islamabad: Two sectors of Islamabad, E-8 and E-9, have taken the lead in banning plastic bags.

The ban has been put in place to raise awareness among the residents, particularly the youth, regarding the hazards of plastic use. The residents too have welcomed the measure and they can be spotted heading to shops and markets in these two sectors, carrying cloth-made bags or big paper ones.

The environment-friendly measure in the two sectors has been taken by the local military leadership — Sector E-8 houses Naval headquarters and E-9, Air Headquarters.

The two sectors are like two smaller “cities within the city” containing offices of armed personnel, hospitals, universities, schools, banks, post offices, shopping centres, police stations, parks, playgrounds and markets; in short, with all the facilities considered part and parcel of modern living.

Recently, plastic bags were banned in these sectors, with shopkeepers instructed to keep environment-friendly recycled shopping bags or paper bags for the convenience of shoppers.

Daily, more than 5,000 students of schools, colleges and universities in the two sectors arrive from various localities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. A similar number of office workers, teachers, sanitary staff and labour force also work here.

In addition, pickups carrying vegetables, fruit and other items also head to these sectors for daily supplies.

In spite of this daily influx and exodus of hundreds and thousands of people and vehicles, the roads in these sectors are cleaner, and parks and pavements aren’t littered.

“This is all because of the absence of plastic. At vegetable and fruit shops, meat and fish markets, clothes and stationery stores, you will not find a single plastic bag, or ‘shopper’, as we generally call them,” said Maria, a resident of E-8.

Khizar, a vendor in Sector E-9 said that it was a bit odd to give vegetables in cloth or paper bags to shoppers in the begging, but with the passage of time, they got used to it.

A spokesperson of the Naval Headquarters said plastic bag ban orders already existed. “We have only implementing them in letter and spirit.”

Similarly, an Air Force Headquarters spokesperson said the ban on plastic was imposed last month, simultaneously with the Naval Headquarters.

“Worldwide, there is an increasing awareness regarding the dangers of widespread use of plastic. We are happy to take initiative on this count,” the spokesperson said.

Another E-9 sector resident, Nyla, said she wanted to save her own children and others from terrible dangers posed to the environment from widespread plastic bag use.

Tasneem Adam Ali, a well known environmentalist and dean, Faculty of Sciences at Karachi University, said the 15 per cent annual growth in Pakistan’s plastic industry posed a serious environmental threat, in urban as well as rural areas. “Plastic pollution is a major problem for marine and freshwater bodies in Pakistan; it destroys habitats and adversely impacts wildlife species,” Tasneem said.

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