Plastic Bags

By: Anam Shaikh

Plastic bags are used in every walk of life. Recently in United States of America, Tennessee Church Group made 10,000 sleeping mats for homeless people from plastic bags. Plastic is not expensive and in this modern era, it is one of the most widely available and overused item in the world. We cannot even imagine such a huge usage of this material in most unexpected things.

In 1960, plastics were utilized in every item. Polyethylene, one of the world most presenting plastics, had been created in 1898. It was generally used to make the type of grocery store plastic bags.Environmental Protection Agency of Pakistan (EPA-Pak) Director Zia ul Islam prescribes ‘Oxo-biodegradable technology’ as the viable substitute to the widespread use of polythene bags.

Most of the people in our society are unaware of the hazardous effects of plastic. When plastic reaches our water, whether as plastic bags or drifting fish net, it poses threat to animals that depend on oceans for food.In the oceans, plastic is bleached and broken down into smaller granules which are swallowed by small fishes and marine animals, which ultimately has its hazardous effect on the food chain.

Zia ul Islam said ‘Prohibition of plastic bags is not the solution. In fact, use of Oxo-biodegradable bag technology is the solution which can dispose of within six months. Many countries have introduced this technology and it is simple which neither need alternation in machinery nor in the process.

According to a survey approximately 12 million plastic bags were used in Pakistan in 1990-1991and this use to 43 billion in 2005 and in 2007 up to 5 billion. 2004’s study report estimated that based on figures available at that time, Pakistan would be using 112 billion plastic bags by 2015. 1 trillion plastic bags are used in one year worldwide.

In Pakistan, people burn plastic bags along with other solid wastes in cities and villages, burning of such waste is very harmful for health. It increases the risk of heart diseases, aggravate respiratory ailments such as asthma, emphysema and cause rashes, nausea and headache, damages the nervous system, kidney or liver in the reproductive and development system.

Open burning of plastic bags and plastic waste degrade the environment.By knowing such harmful effects of plastic bags few attempts have been made in the past to ban them.More efforts are needed to make Pakistan environmentally healthy. If all the plastic bag manufacturing industries in Pakistan start manufacturing these bags with biodegradable material, we will be able to save our environment.