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Climate change ministry to recycle confiscated plastic bags

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Climate Change has decided to recycle the plastic bags it has confiscated since banning them in the capital into waste bins, flowerpots and even furniture.

Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Saleem told Dawn on Sunday: “It is nothing new. Furniture and other home products made from recycled plastic bottles and other kinds of plastics are already available in the market. This initiative is among several plans proposed by the adviser to the prime minister on climate change and the Clean and Green Pakistan project.”

He said the ministry has already held meetings with manufacturers for a way forward.

Since banning plastic bags on Aug 14 last year, the ministry’s implementation teams have imposed more than Rs1.2 million in fines and seized around 2,100kg of polythene bags.

Since banning plastic bags, the ministry’s teams have imposed more than Rs1.2 million in fines, seized around 2,100kg of polythene bags

After plastic bags were banned in the city, four teams were formed on Aug 16, 2019, to implement the ban in various areas, including the presidency, the suburbs and Industrial Area.

The Ministry of Climate Change, Islamabad Capital Territory administration, Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad and Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) are responsible for monitoring the illegal use of these bags.

Wholesalers can be fined up to Rs100,000, while shopkeepers can be fined up to Rs10,000 and consumers up to Rs5,000 for first-time violations. The fine increases with repeated violations.

The ministry has claimed that the use of plastic bags in the capital has been controlled by 80pc, but efforts will continue.

Despite these efforts, shops in weekly markets, corner stores and vendors selling fruit and vegetables on carts are continuing to package goods in polythene bags. Some corner stores are also using oxy-biodegradable plastic bags, which are believed to be even more harmful than ordinary plastic bags to health and the environment.

Environmentalists in the ministry have said that oxy-biodegradable plastic bags disintegrate into tiny particles that can be inhaled by humans and swallowed by marine life when they make their way into rivers and seats.

According to Pak-EPA Director General Farzana Altaf Shah, oxy-biodegradable plastic bags are also banned under the law.

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