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Minister for phasing out use, sale of plastic bags

Islamabad, January 31, 2013 (PPI-OT): The Federal Minister for Climate Change, Rana Muhammad Farooq Saeed Khan, has pressed on need for replacement of poisonous plastic bags with bio-degradable plastic bags, which are environment-friendly and is not detrimental to human health.

“Bags, both paper and plastic, in fact represent a huge threat to the environment. This menace is not only pertains to the sheer volume of them ending up in landfill, but also to the resources needed to produce, transport and (occasionally) recycle them, and the emissions resulting from these processes. These disposable bags are also notorious for their interference in ecosystems and the part they play in flood events, where they clog pipes and drains,” he said.

He expressed these views in a press conference on phasing out use and sale of plastic bags held here at the Ministry.

Besides, paper bags production, he added, requires hundreds of thousands of gallons of water and different toxic chemicals including sulphurous acid that can lead to acid rain and water contamination, which is hazardous for the life on earth.

He said that is praise-worthy the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) , Pakistan, has succeeded in getting approval from the Federal Ministry of Law and Justice for banning the use and sale of the plastic bags in all forms and its export, which [the ban] has been already notified.

Rana Farooq informed the journalists that under the law, the use, sale and export of the plastic bags will be completely banned in Pakistan from April 2013 and in place of it Oxo-biodegradable plastic bags will be introduced in the country.

“The Oxo-biodegradable plastic is polyolefin plastic to which has been added amounts of metal salts (none of these are “heavy metals” except Cobalt. These catalyze the natural degradation process to speed it up so that the OXO plastic will degrade resulting in micro fragments of plastic and metals which will remain in the environment but will not be seen as a visual contaminant.

The degradation process is shortened from hundreds of years to years and/or months for degradation and thereafter biodegradation depends on the micro-organisms in the environment.” The minister explained.

Rana Farooq said, “The ban is entirely in favour our human health and we have to support it at any cost. For, it will help us get rid of the disposable plastic bags.”

Similar actions have already been taken in America, Asia and Europe in view of the harmful effects of the bags, he highlighted.

The Minister said that the Ministry in support with the EPA will close work with provincial environment department on the implementation of law against use and sale of the plastic bags in letter and spirit.

The Secretary of the Ministry of Climate Change, Syed Muhammad Ali Gardezi, highlighted need to sensitise people about hazards of the plastic bags through nationwide mass awareness programmes. Because without this the enforcement of the anti-plastic bag law is unlikely to see light of the day.

He said that around 8,000 manufacturing units in the country produce estimated Rs55 worth plastic bags which are manufactured annually in Pakistan and its manufacturing is increasing at a rate of 15 percent every year. Besides, 200,000 people earn livelihood from it directly and 600,000 indirectly.

Meanwhile, the minister told media that the climate change ministry has already approached the representatives of the Plastic Bag Manufacturers Association of Pakistan and office bearers of the Karachi and Lahore chambers of commerce of industries to draw their support for banning the use and sale of the bags.

Asif Shuja Khan, director-general of the Pak-EPA, said that that this landmark step taken by the Ministry will have long-term benefits to control spread of waste plastic bags and enable exporters to comply with the environment-friendly packaging demanded in the international market.

“Many advanced countries have already put ban on use, sale of the plastic bags given their detrimental impacts on environment and human health and introduced oxo-biodegradable plastic technology. This technology is simple which neighter needs alteration neither in machinery nor in t6he process,” he remarked.

Talking about the manufacturing process of the biodegrable bags technology, the Pak-EPA director general said that a small quantity of olefin based additive (1-3%) is mixed with the raw material (granules) to develop biodergradable properties in plastic. And, plastic bag made with this technology, if left in open air or water, absorbs biological degradation to take place. Finally the bag will vanish, leaving behind humus (a non-toxic product).

“The plastics have extensive usage in packaging of food, beverages, cigarette, leather textile, electronically/.mechanical machinery and components, etc,” he told the media conference and added that now it is also being used in agriculture as mulches and in forestry for saplings.

Joint Secretary (admin) Muhammad Ijaz, Joint Secretary (Development) Muhammad Khalid Siddiq, Joint Secretary (International Cooperation) Muhammad Ashraf and Inspector General of Forests Syed Mahmood Nasir were also available and spoke on this occasion.

For more information, Contact:
Muhammad Saleem
Deputy Director
Media and Communication
Ministry of Climate Change
Government of Pakistan
LG and RD Complex, G-5/2, ISLAMABAD
Ph: 051-9245565
E-mail: moccpakistan@hotmail.com
Web: http://www.mocc.gov.pk/

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