Recycling in Pakistan - A Reflection & Guidelines

To make things simpler recycle in Pakistan, here are guides that could help build up a eco-friendlier culture!

Recycling in Pakistan - A Reflection & Guidelines
Recycling in Pakistan - A Reflection & Guidelines
Sarah Asif
November 10, 2022

In the rapidly deteriorating climate change situation all over the world, along with a persistent energy crisis, changing economic conditions and the threat of a new cold war with big-power face-offs at an all time high, there is a dire need for processes and steps that can hope to make our globe able to tackle environmental issues.

With Pakistan being at the forefront of bearing the consequences of these global changes, including the recent floods, it makes great sense to adopt an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Pakistan has contributed less than its’ emissions that it is allowed globally, but has faced the brunt of climatic changes heavily.

A trip up north in Pakistan is filled with conversations lamenting the sights of plastic bags stuck in water bodies and streams of waste running along the once serene, clean  and stunning mountains.

Pakistan’s recycling extent at the household level is demonstrated by selling off plastic bottles, newspapers, and few other products commonly known as “Raddii”. At a national level, the simple ban on plastic bags by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) placed in 2019, resulted in distribution of cheap alternatives, penalties levied on violators, and a survey indicating that 80% of participants agreed that the ban increased their knowledge on pollution and the importance of recycling. However, the ban alone is not enough. Creative, collaborative, and decisive action is necessary to stem the tide.

To make things simpler for users to recycle in Pakistan, here is a formulated guide of on-going initiatives and steps that could help build up an eco-friendlier and greener lifestyle in Pakistan through the use of recycling!

Recycling boxes showing where to throw different type of waste.

1. Start simple:

To start simple, it is imperative to be more conscious at an individual level. The next time you take your car out to the market nearby, try to walk or cycle instead. For longer routes why not take the bus instead of your car?

On your weekly grocery run, opt for reusable bags instead of plastic ones! The next time you go shopping, choose sustainable products, or the next time you choose to ignore the plantation drive your university, local community or workplace has organized, make an effort and show up!For your next DIY art project, why not incorporate scrap paper instead of your fancier glossy sheets?

Prevention is the best cure, in this situation, and by that what we mean is that you can simply choose to not buy or keep environmentally-damaging items in your house! This includes plastic bags, plastic waste, and anything that takes centuries to decompose, and if burned would cause trouble. However, it is completely understandable that plastic waste can gradually build up in our living spaces, so do be sure to check the next steps on how to deal with that.

2. Campaigns and Awareness Projects:

The Clean Green Pakistan Index (CGPI) is a very creative initiative taken in November 2019, that comprised 35 performance indicators on which cities were ranked annually. This promoted healthy competition between citizens and instilled in them a sense of responsibility towards the environment. High ranking cities were rewarded by the government to boost morale. 

Pakistan’s IT sector currently is also focusing on exploring new coding systems that facilitate the recycling of plastic waste disposed of by secondary consumers (us).

3. The Green Stimulus:

The Green Stimulus scheme focuses on the dual objective of creating green jobs for idle daily wagers and protecting the environment. The areas of focus of this program focus on improving urban sanitation, planting trees, and uplifting the country towards a nature-positive pathway. With Pakistan’s Billion Tree Project already a pioneer, more work can be done to enhance employment and focus here.

4. Properly Recycling Your Plastic Waste

As of yet, Pakistan is struggling with the dilemma of effective waste product recycling on a nationwide scale, due in large part to lack of awareness in the public, as well as lack of time and energy. Burning trash is more common as it is easier and more accessible after all. Crops are burnt too and the Punjab government is incentivizing farmers not too. Regardless, that doesn’t mean we all have to continue down this path – if it means a chance at reclaiming our country’s green thumb and reducing its carbon footprint, slow yet steady steps toward recycling can go a long way in helping out and doing your part.

A farmer burns straw stubble after harvesting a paddy crop in a field near the India-Pakistan Wagah border, some 35 kms from Amritsar on October 19, 2020. (AFP)

You will start by splitting your trash as it collects in your home into several containers, rather than throwing it together all into one collective trash bag. Separate the recyclable plastics into one, organic food waste into another, and paper and such other dry, easily biodegradable trash into yet another. The plastic one has lots of potential, as the trash in it can range from plastic bags to disposable plastic cutlery to cloth/item packaging and so much more that we don’t even think about.

After that, you will simply go to your nearest plastic recycling plants, and deposit your bag/s there.In such a simple way, you have done your part in recycling plastic and not contributed to an unhealthy waste culture!

Maintaining a recyclable approach in your life is easy and healthy, just make it a routine, daily, weekly or biweekly. However, adopting a different lifestyle, letting go of things you’re used to may be difficult at first, but take one step at a time and you’ll get there! Pakistan requires its waste management to be done in an effective manner to protect our environment, use recycled materials and promote a sustainable culture that begins to function as a circular economy. 

Recycling in Pakistan - A Reflection & Guidelines

Content Writer & Part of Research Team at PAR

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