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Islamabad’s plastic ban has cost many people their jobs

SAMAA | - Posted: Sep 5, 2019 | Last Updated: 4 months ago
Posted: Sep 5, 2019 | Last Updated: 4 months ago
Islamabad’s plastic ban has cost many people their jobs

In this picture taken on July 16, 2019, a municipal worker carries a bag of recycling items at a site in Islamabad. - From the once pristine rivers of Hindu Kush to the slums of Islamabad, Pakistan is being smothered by plastic due to a lack of public awareness, government inertia, and poor waste management. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI / AFP) / TO GO WITH Pakistan-environment-plastic,FEATURE by Joris Fioriti

Islamabad’s decision to ban flimsy plastic bags that get thrown away after being used has been hailed by many as a correct step for the future. People affiliated with the plastic bag industry have, however, said that the way the government went about this ban has cost hundreds of thousands of people their jobs.

Holding placards with anti-government slogans, people working at plastic factories staged a protest in Islamabad on Wednesday. They have claimed that more than 8,000 factories have been shut down in Punjab because of the ban.

Related: ‘I like plastic’: Pakistan’s toxic ‘love affair’ with waste

“I can’t even afford two meals a day now,” a worker who has been rendered jobless told SAMAA TV.

More than 200 people were working at a single factory, said All Pakistan Anjuman Tajaran President Ajmal Baloch. Then there were the salespersons, he said. They have all lost their jobs now, he said.

The factory owners have said that those who placed the ban didn’t listen to them.

“What are we supposed to do with the expensive machinery we had put in our factories,” asked a person whose factory has been shut down. “They should’ve given us some time at least.”

He said that he told the authorities that he wants to start producing biodegradable bags, which are being produced by other factories. “They, however, asked us to close down our factories just like that without giving us any time.”

Related: Pakistan’s airports to do away with plastic shopping bags

Plastic bags have been banned in the federal capital since August 14 as part of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Clean Green Pakistan campaign. It is now illegal to manufacture, sell and distribute plastic bags in the city.

After the ban, producers can be fined up to Rs500,000, while sellers can be fined up to Rs50,000 and people who will be seen plastic bags can be fined up to Rs5,000.

The Ministry of Climate Change has claimed that it has seized nearly 2.5 million polythene bags as part of the crackdown against the use of plastic bags in the capital city. The government, along with some NGOs, has even distributed tote bags among the people to use instead.

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  1. Avatar
      Shehroz  September 5, 2019 6:05 pm/ Reply

    Good step by government. They can find other jobs. i know finding job is too difficult in pakistan but ALLAH Pak promise of rizq.

  2. Avatar
      Syed Akif  November 15, 2019 11:44 am/ Reply

    As a citizen not only of Pakistan but of a world drowning in the plastic crisis, I feel this piece is not very responsible journalism. WHile it may be a duty of journalism to report the happenings of national or regional importance, such reports should be balanced by reporting on the cost and benefits of any situation: If a 100 or 1000 people lose their livelihood, and the country’s precious resources are saved – in the form of not having to open choked gutter lines which in turn mean disease for localities nd human misery all around must also be mentioned. News must not be one sided. Indeed, thee few hundred people can switch to alternate bags like cloth bags which may not sell as much as plastic but will nonetheless generate income that can be supplemented by other activities.

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Islamabad, plastic pollution, plastic ban, clean and green Pakista, ministry of climate change, zartaj gul, PM Khan
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