Sherry urges action against plastic pollution on Earth Day

Says impact of plastic pollution is both severe and long-lasting.

ISLAMABAD: Senator Sherry Rehman, Vice President of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), on Earth Day 2024 stressed the critical importance of addressing plastic pollution and its enduring, detrimental impact on human health and the environment, particularly in a country like Pakistan.

She said: “As we commemorate Earth Day today, this year’s theme, “Planet vs. Plastics,” brings our attention to the urgent need to combat plastic pollution and its devastating effects on both human health and the environment, particularly in a country like Pakistan. Why? Because the impact of plastic pollution is both severe and long-lasting, causing irreparable damage to life on Earth, ranging from the highest mountains to the deepest ocean trenches.”

Citing statistics from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the senator pointed out that since the 1950s, 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced, with 7 billion tonnes becoming waste, contributing to landfills and the pollution of lakes, rivers, soil, and oceans.

“The UN’s global treaty on plastics needs to be taken forward because plastics know no borders. But what is the situation at home? According to the UNEP, Pakistan generates 3.3 million tons of plastic waste annually. Among this vast amount, a substantial portion — 250 million tons— comprises plastic bottles, PET bottles, and food scraps. Pakistan also has the highest percentage of mismanaged plastic waste in South Asia, resulting in large quantities of plastic waste ending up in landfills, dumping sites, and water bodies.

The situation creates severe environmental and human health concerns,” she said.

Rehman highlighted that recognizing the urgency of the matter, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination in Pakistan introduced a comprehensive roadmap for provinces to combat plastic pollution last year.

This roadmap, built upon the 7Rs agenda—resource, research, responsibility, recycle, re-use, redesign, and reduce — aimed to address the problem through a multifaceted approach.

“On this Earth Day and beyond, we must join forces to tackle these pressing issues, which can be achieved by promoting responsible waste management practices, while finding alternatives to single-use plastics and raising awareness about the devastating impact of plastic pollution on our planet and local communities.”

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