ISLAMABAD, Jun 08 – On World Environment Day 2023, a virtual event titled “Reducing Plastic Waste for a Livable Urban Future in Pakistan” was organized by the Institute of Urbanism (IoU) and the School of Leadership (SoLF), with support from the U.S. Embassy. The event brought together experts, policymakers, and concerned citizens to address the pressing issue of plastic waste and its impact on the urban environment in Pakistan.
Raising Awareness and Fostering Dialogue:
The Twitter Space aimed to raise awareness, foster dialogue, and identify effective strategies for reducing plastic waste and creating livable urban spaces. The panel included prominent figures such as the Director General of Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak EPA), Farzana Altaf Shah, and Senior Manager Climate & Energy WWF-Pakistan, Nazifa Butt, among others.
Urgent Need for Collective Action:
Dr Ejaz Ahmad, in his welcome note, emphasized the urgent need for collective action to reduce reliance on single-use plastics and explore sustainable alternatives. Research shows that the usage of plastic bags alone amounts to 55 billion bags annually, with an alarming increase of 15% each year. The gravity of the issue necessitates the development of viable solutions.
Public-Private Partnerships for Impactful Change:
Farzana Altaf highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships in combatting plastic pollution, specifically in Islamabad. She emphasized the need for greater coordination among stakeholders to effectively address the issue. Such partnerships can bring about impactful change and contribute to the reduction of plastic waste in urban areas.
Industries as Contributors to Plastic Pollution:
Nazifa Butt mentioned that the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs), food and beverages industry, and textile sector are not only the major producers of plastic but also significant contributors to the percentage of plastic waste generated. However, she acknowledged the positive step taken by these industries in launching pilot projects focused on plastic recycling. To yield substantial results, she urged the government to provide a clear path for these companies to follow.
Youth Engagement for a Plastic-Free Future:
Mome Saleem highlighted the commendable initiative of the Government of Pakistan’s Green Youth Movement (GYM) program. Through this program, 137 GYM Clubs have been established in various universities, demonstrating a widespread commitment to environmental conservation and youth engagement in making cities plastic-free. By fostering eco-innovation and testing ideas, the program aims to find sustainable solutions to environmental challenges.
Reshaping Waste Practices through Society’s Role:
Mariyam Irfan emphasized the role that society can play in reshaping waste practices, particularly in Islamabad. She stressed the importance of involving young people through youth groups and focusing on raising awareness. Engaging the youth population is crucial in spreading the message of sustainability and actively involving them as individuals.
Entrepreneurs Driving Change:
Two young entrepreneurs engaged in the Twitter Space shared their ventures aimed at reducing plastic use in society. Mehreen Raza briefed the audience about her venture for biodegradable sanitary napkins, which are plastic and chemical-free. Bilal Ahmad highlighted the use of Bio Plastic made of organic polymers as a replacement for conventional plastic, capable of degrading within three to six months.
A Call to Action for Plastic-Free Cities:
The Twitter Space concluded with a resounding call to action, urging all stakeholders to join forces in reducing plastic waste in urban areas. Participants were encouraged to support policies promoting sustainable practices, engage in community-driven initiatives, and advocate for systemic changes. By working together, it is believed that Pakistan can create cleaner and healthier plastic-free cities for future generations.
In the pursuit of a livable urban future, combating plastic waste emerges as a crucial priority. Through collaboration and sustainable practices, Pakistan can pave the way towards a cleaner and healthier environment, ensuring a brighter future for all.