Zero waste is a goal that is aimed to help and guide people in following the sustainable natural cycles and employing reduce, recycle and reuse approach in their lifestyle. Zero waste is about designing, managing and processing product so as to shrink the volume and toxicity of waste, conserve and recover the resources instead of burning and landfilling.
Due to increased population, booming economy, rapid urbanization and rising standards of living, there has been an upsurge in the solid waste generation worldwide, predominantly in developing countries. Waste generation is now a paramount global ecological concern. Increased volume of waste generation has created huge burden for waste management authorities and created a negative impact on the fulfilment of their services.
Implementation of zero waste lifestyle proves helpful in the elimination of polluted discharges to land, air or water that may be a threat to planetary human, animals and plant health. Zero waste lifestyle focuses on waste prevention and avoidance instead of waste treatment and disposal. Zero incineration and zero landfill is not a possibility with the massive resource consumption worldwide but reduction is surely possible.
Traditional waste management system significantly pollutes our environment, thus requiring an improved and efficient waste management system. Thus, the zero waste objectives including industrial recycling, consume resources within a circular economic model with less environmental degradation, centered on the “no-waste” principle from nature, etc., should be implemented.
Pakistan Waste Platform (PWP) was initiated in 2017 to motivate and raise awareness in the country about zero waste and initiating a platform that would voice the need for change on an individual, community, local, and nationwide level. The platform is focused on developing discussions around existing waste management and recycling practices. The motivation is to make it easier for people living in Pakistan to choose zero waste and plastic-free lifestyles.
In December, 2020, PWP evolved to become part of an international organization, International Waste Platform. PWP is a ‘hub’ connecting stakeholders from all sectors, facilitating waste business development, promoting and facilitating cross-sector collaboration, encouraging the formation of a common shared vision, strategy, and action plans in association among the private and public sectors of Pakistan. In Pakistan, National Hazardous Waste Management Policy was launched in June, 2022. This policy will help in managing hazardous waste with the contribution in waste management and attaining zero waste lifestyle. This policy will facilitate Pakistan in meeting the obligations under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. Additionally, effective implementation of the policy would help Pakistan in achieving the relevant Sustainable Development Goals and acquiring extension of the European Union’s GSP Plus status post 2023.
According to Asian Bank Development (ADB) report of March, 2022, it is assessed that almost 40% of the total urban waste in Pakistan is being disposed of at dumpsites, which are designated as dumping grounds by the municipal authorities. The rest (60%) is disposed of in unauthorized way like in water bodies, open dumps and in other peri-urban areas.
Open disposal and burning is a very common practice in the urban and rural areas of Pakistan. This practice is more prevalent in small cities and in those rural areas where poor infrastructure, waste collection and transportation facilities are non-existent or less developed. However, maximum waste is dumped in open dumping sites. Primary data on unauthorized waste disposal is limited in Pakistan. Presently, waste management and a sustainable zero waste lifestyle will take some time to evolve and be executed.
Waste management is mainly a provincial concern and is managed at the local level. It is indispensable to have a waste management approach at the national level and must be implemented or adopted after consensus with all the local, provincial and national stakeholders, including the governmental and non-governmental organizations.
To attain zero waste goal, proficient waste collection and disposal services along with sound environmental standards at dumping sites should be provided by local authorities. The strategy should be followed by a robust implementation plan ensuring the access of waste management services in all rural and urban areas.
Improper disposal of solid waste can lead to health hazards, damage to local ecosystems and wildlife. In Pakistan, the waste sector is a major source of greenhouse gases emissions. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Pakistan contributes about 0.9% to the greenhouse gases emissions globally with the solid waste management sector making up about 3% of the total greenhouse gases emissions from various sectors of Pakistan locally.
For zero waste lifestyle, production of waste should be reduced as much as possible, through raising awareness among masses, technological interventions, and the replacement of non-degradable plastics with biodegradable materials. Waste is a product that is harmful to the environment as well as humans. But it could serve an advantageous purpose by being used as raw material in industries or in other ways. Therefore, at the waste management levels, whatever waste is generated should be reused as much as possible. It would be beneficial to recycle the waste products for reuse as an alternative to the usage of fresh raw materials. Recycling reduces the waste going into landfill sites, and hence also reduces greenhouse gases emissions. At the same time, it decreases the use of energy in the production of fresh raw materials.
The waste management system should be guided by appropriate legislation and controlled at the national, regional, and local levels, but responsibility for effective service delivery and implementation should be left to the local authorities.
Sustainability and attaining zero waste lifestyle requires adequate staffing capacity at all levels. There must be tax incentives for private sector work in the waste management sector. For example, a zero-rated tariff is currently imposed on machinery and vehicles for solid waste management imported by municipal bodies, but not on similar imports by the private sector. Likewise, plants and machinery for waste-to-energy plants can be imported at a zero tariff rate by municipal bodies. HH
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