As many as 2.5 million tons of garbage in Pakistan primarily consists of plastic bags, pet bottles, and food scraps, and around 65 percent of the total waste including water bottles caps, plastic bags, and packages ended up on the beaches of the country.

According to WWF Pakistan, 55 billion plastic bags are being used across the country and an approximately 15 percent annual increase is expected in their usage in Pakistan. On the other hand, a total of seven billion tons of plastic has been produced in the world till now out of which only 0.7 billion tons have been recycled to date.

These views were expressed by the General Manager of Novatex Chaudhry Anees Ahmed while addressing the inaugural ceremony of the Novatex Research Lab at the Department of Chemical Engineering University of Karachi. The acting KU vice chancellor Professor Dr Nasira Khatoon and the Executive General Manager Novatex Engineer Naim Kassem inaugurated the research lab at the chemical engineering department. The department has also arranged a day-long seminar on sustainable solid waste management systems at the seminar hall of the department of chemical engineering.

Anees Ahmad informed the audience that as per the World Bank report, East Asia produced 143 million ton of plastic every year while Europe and Central Asia contributes 112 million ton of plastic and 95 million ton of plastic is produced from North America. In 2021, 380 million tons of plastic were produced while only 10 percent was recycled.

The GM Novatex Anees Ahmad shared that there are a lot of benefits of proper recycling of such items as they reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators, conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals, and prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials and saves energy.

He expressed that Novatex is targeting to recycle 80, 000 tons of pet bottles annually in the next three years.

Meanwhile, the acting KU VC Professor Dr Nasira Khatoon observed that practically authorities concerned are not taking practical measures to recycle the wastage in the city. She said that the law has been passed by the provincial assembly but we need its implementation across the metropolis.

She shared that as the government authorities have failed to clear the garbage from the streets of the megacity, it is causing environmental pollution as well as health issues for the public. Professor Dr Nasira Khatoon mentioned that if the solid waste is properly used for recycling then authorities concerned could make good money but unfortunately so serious steps have been taken in this regard yet.

The acting KU VC Professor Dr Nasira Khatoon said that as we all know that Karachi is a megacity that has a lot of industrial units and its residential projects produces a huge amount of garbage and solid waste material and advised that if governments should adopt policies to recycle them before dumping it at the landfill sites.

She mentioned that the world is utilizing solid waste material to produce electricity but unfortunately we are ignoring the idea. She advised that people should not throw the garbage outside their homes and factories and cooperate with governmental bodies in properly dumping garbage and solid waste materials.

The General Manager Popular Group of Industries Dr Naeem Ullah Naeem said that almost 75 percent diseases in the city are spread due to dirtiness and absence of cleanliness, garbage could be find at each and every corner of the metropolitan.

He suggested that government should allocate reasonable budget for the cleanliness of Karachi and hoped that it would help in minimizing the spread of various viral diseases in the megacity. He mentioned that majority of the industrialists know how to deal with solid waste but residential consumers have no idea about it.

“There is an issue that we do not want to clean the city and reluctant in performing our duties”.

Another speaker, the Managing Director Sindh Solid Waste Management Board Zubair Ahmed Channa said that people do not cooperate with the SWMB and throw their garbage on roadsides or empty plots rather than putting it in dustbins.

The Director of Coal Research Centre and Professor at the Chemical Engineering MUET Jamshoro Dr Sohail Ahmed Soomoro said that this is sad that people like to burn garbage rather than dump it in the right place so that government bodies could use it to produce energy.

Earlier, the in-charge department of chemical engineering Dr Shagufta Ishteyaque briefed the audience about the background of the department and lauded that the private sector frequently comes forward to help the department. She mentioned that the department has been progressing in the right direction as the administration promptly resolves its issues and the private sectors assist in designing courses and conducting workshops and training sessions as well as providing internships to the students.

Author

Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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