According to a report published in the business section of Dawn (Feb 13), Pakistan imports all kinds of plastic scrap, including sewerage and drainage pipes, medical and clinical waste, cable insulation, bottles, food containers, packaging film containing contaminants and traces of pesticides, pest dump, chemicals, pathogens and polymers of unknown composition, which can pose fatal hazards to the environment and the lives of those being exposed to them.
During the last three years, Pakistani importers have dumped over 100,000 tons of hazardous plastic scrap in the country.
Most of the imported plastic scrap was used in the manufacturing of water pipes which were used for supplying of water, thus putting millions of lives at risk and also in violation of Pakistani Pipe Manufacturing Standards PS 3051/1991.
If imported scrap is used to manufacture plastic products for kitchen usage and water pipes which are used in our everyday lives, it can pose fatal hazards to the lives of millions of countrymen in the long run. Our country is already going through a lot of gas shortage, power outages, malnutrition, bomb blasts, targeted killings, etc. We can’t afford to have another crisis in Pakistan.
According to media reports, realising the sensitivity of the problem, the government is considering introducing more measures to ensure better control on the import of plastic scrap.
These would include allowing scrap import to only Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) registered manufacturers strictly for production of finished goods in compliance with designated Pakistani or international standards.
Pakistan can also, in collaboration with the Basel Convention, organise training workshops for our Customs authorities, monitoring these scraps so that they could be sensitised about the hazards involved in importing and releasing hazardous plastic scrap.
The authorities concerned should not allow the import and release of such scrap materials on mere generalised letters, but they should also have better knowledge and understanding of the issue.