During July 2019 some international economists quoted as saying that more than 90 states in the world have banned the use of plastic bags and another 36 regulate them with levies and fees. At least 25 countries with bans counting Panama — have exemptions for perishable foods or medicines. Bans are mainly widespread in Africa. They have also stated that this is partly because relatively low-waste collection and recycling rates make the problem of waste plastic more visible, partly because Africa exports very little plastic and lacks a strong industry lobby.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) revealed that up to 5 trillion plastic bags are consumed each year. Disposed of improperly, they can clog waterways, choke marine life and provide a breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. When dumped in landfills, they can take centuries to decompose.
Statistics also showed that in US, the places that have banned plastic bags and straws so far include New York, where state lawmakers have approved a state-wide plastic bag ban that will go into effect in March 2020. During April 2019, the Business Insider revealed that in some states, people face jail term for using plastic bags. It is also calculated that shoppers use 500 billion single-use plastic bags worldwide yearly. These bags typically end up in landfills or the ocean.
More than 100,000 marine mammals get entangled in plastic bags and die yearly. On average, a plastic bag has only a 12-minute lifespan. Most bags wind up languishing in landfills, where they can remain for up to 1,000 years. In the US, 500 million straws are used daily. The UN statement published July 2018 stated, some 127 states had already implemented some type of policy regulating plastic bags, but not before they had wreaked havoc on the planet in a number of ways.
Furthermore, different sources also mentioned that during 2002 Bangladesh became the first country globally to ban thinner plastic bags after they were found to have choked the drainage system during devastating floods. During 2017, Kenya was lauded for imposing the world harshest plastic bag ban in the world.
Experts also revealed that during July 2019, Panama became the latest to ban single-use plastic bags. Plastic-bag waste reached such high levels in China that citizens coined the term white pollution. The country adopted a full ban in 2008. Last year, the city of Montreal had banned single-use plastic bags. Statistics also revealed that by February 2019, plastic bans had spread in India from Tamil Nadu to the state of Maharashtra. During 2019 (February), the National Geographic had reported:
“Last June, as India hosted the United Nations’ World Environment Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proclaimed its intention to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022. Modi’s crusade builds on efforts to ban certain single-use plastics that began in 2009, when the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern India became the first to ban plastic shopping bags. New Delhi, India’s capital city, adopted a more expansive ban that included bags, cutlery, cups, and plates during 2017. By the starting 2019, local governments in greater than half of India’s 29 states and 7 territories had crafted legislation taking aim at single-use plastic.
Statistics also showed that during 1994, Denmark was the first European state to begin charging a tax on them. Following the introduction of the tax, usage dropped from almost 800 million to about 400 million bags per year. Ireland, which began charging customers for plastic bags in 2002, saw a 90 percent reduction in usage and litter after the tax was put into effect. Recently, the European Union has said that it wants to see an 80 percent drop in plastic bag use by 2019.
In the developing countries like Pakistan, the plastic packaging sector is growing industrial segment. The increased trade and commercial activity in consumer and industrial sectors, changing lifestyle, increased population and growth in retail business has created a great demand for supply of plastic bags as most of the consumer sector use plastic bags while delivering their products to the customer. Statistics published during March, 2019 revealed that Pakistan stands second in the row of plastic industry in South Asia. Currently 200,000 people directly and 600,000 indirectly involved in the production of plastic bags in more than 8,000 manufacturing units spread in Pakistan, mostly Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar. Historically, it interestingly to note that the government of Sindh had imposed a ban on the manufacturing, sale, purchase and use of polythene bags during 1994. Punjab followed suit in 1995 while Balochistan levied a complete ban on polythene bags in 2001. Islamabad had also banned the use and sale of plastic bags during 2013 but the previous government had failed in implementing a decision that would have declined a lot of health hazards and drain blockages by now.
According to the ministry of climate change in Pakistan, the use of plastic bags is rising at the rate of 15 percent yearly, and as a local media house had presently states, as many as 12 million plastic bags were used in the country between 1990 and 1991 and this consumption had surged to 43 billion during 2005 and up to 55 billion during 2007.
Presently, the ban on the use of polythene bags in the federal capital entails a permanent halt of its manufacturing, trading and sale. The ministry of climate change has introduced alternate cotton bags in the place of plastic bags. It is also mentioned that the government of Sindh has also proclaimed plans to make the province a plastic bag-free by October 2019. The University of Karachi has completely ban the use of plastic bags in the campus. Ministry for Climate Change began the countdown on August 14, after which selling and using single-use plastic bags will become an offence punishable with a fine in the capital. It was also predicted that the manufacturers of single-use plastic bags within the limits of the capital will be fined between Rs100,000 and Rs500,000 after Aug 14.
By reducing the use of plastic bags in Pakistan and growing trees in large numbers can play a very vital role in minimizing the environmental hazards.