The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK)Environmental Protection Agency is all set to ban the production, sale and use of non-degradable plastic products in the province for being a major cause of environmental pollution in the province.
The ban will be enforced after the KPEPA addresses few objections raised by the law department about the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prohibition of Non-degradable Plastic Products (Manufacturing, Sale and Usage) Rules 2016.
The relevant officials feel the ban’s enforcement will happen ‘very soon’.
Under the proposed rules, a copy of which is available with Dawn, the manufacturing of non-biodegradable black shopping bags will be strictly banned.Rules say manufacturers will get three months to dispose of black shopping bags, retailers six months
Once the rules are approved, the manufacturers will have to dispose of the stock of black shopping bags in three months and retailers in six months.
The law department vetted the proposed rules of late before sending them back to the KPEPA with minor objections to address.
Now, the authority will rectify objections and send the relevant rules to the law department for approval, which will lead to the enforcement of the ban.
The rules will apply to all disposable plastic products, which are made of wholly or substantially of polyethylene, polypropylene or polystyrene.
Among such products are carrier bags or shopping bags used to carry provisions, bread bags, food packaging, including frozen food packaging, garbage bags, shrink-wrap, pallet-wrap, buddle-wrap, agriculture mulching film, woven plastic bags, milk and water packaging etc.
“In exercise of powers conferred by Section 7 of the law and subject to the time frame specified in the schedule (I) no person shall import, manufacture, stockpile, trade, supply, distribute, sell or use any scheduled plastic product which is non-degradable”, reads the rules.
The rules states that no pro-degradant additive shall be sold, distributed or imported by any company or manufacturer of scheduled plastic product without registration with the environmental protection agency.
“The applicant shall submit, inter alia, several documents including test certificates of additive from independent third party laboratory that is accredited in accordance with the International Standard Organisation.”
According to the rules, test would be carried out in accordance with the test methods prescribed by Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority or any other well reputed international standard and quality authority duly recognized by government and the reports must clearly state the percentage of pro-degradant additive which must be consistent for all the tests namely degradation, bio-degradation and eco-toxicity. The applicant is also required to have certificate of membership of national or international oxo-biodegradable plastics association.
The rules states that oxo-biodegradable carry-bags, shopping-bags and containers made of virgin plastic shall be transparent on in a natural shade or whereas such items used for purposes other than storing packing foodstuffs shall be manufactured using pigments and colorants as per ISO.
It further states that no schedule plastic product except for garbage sacks shall be made in black colour while no oxo-biodegradable plastic carry-bags, shopping-bags will be less than 50 microns thick.
The rules insist that the recycled scheduled plastic products must be marked as “Recycled plastic, unsafe for contact with food.
Under the rules, the KPEPA director general or any officer authorised may, by notice in writing, require a person to submit him certificates, records and information as he may reasonably require for the purpose of ascertaining whether that person is complying with the provisions of these rules.
The person served with such notice shall submit the requisite documents or information etc within 15 days positively.
A grievance committee has to be established to look into any grievance related to implementation of the rules and make suitable recommendations (if needed) for approval of the government.
An official authorised by the authority will proceed against the people found guilty of contravening, infringing or violating rules.
The proposed punishment for rule violators is Rs50,000 fine extendable to Rs5 million and two years imprisonment.