Zero waste management: How can we implement a zero waste policy in Pakistan?

Taha Amir

A wise man once said, “Do something drastic – cut the plastic!” Today in coeval times, we are dwelling in the golden era of technology and communications, where every new dawn, something fresh is concocted for the betterment of humanity. Nevertheless, this innovation and refinement come at a price where we have been damaging our habitat and mother earth for the progress of humankind. Of course, we cannot afford to undo everything that has been done, but we can execute some measures to protect nature. Here comes the policy of zero-waste administration. The following brief analysis offers an insight into the concept of zero-waste, and the stage for this study is implementing a zero-waste management policy in various aspects of Pakistan’s society. The study also suggests implementing a zero-waste management policy in multiple organs of Pakistani society, like at the university, organisational and societal or community levels.

Introduction:

Zero-waste is a dogma that facilitates reorganising resource life cycles so all merchandise can be utilised again. The foremost objective of the vision of zero waste is to send no waste to dumps, incinerators, or the ocean. Zero waste refers to the disposal of waste and planning approaches that accentuate waste prevention instead of ending pipe waste management. It is a complete system approach striving for an enormous metamorphosis in how materials flow through the community, resulting in no waste. Zero-waste confines more than eliminating waste through recycling and reuse; it concentrates on restructuring production and distribution systems to reduce waste. So, in a nutshell, zero-waste is more of a destination or ideal rather than a challenging target. Zero waste management was first established by PhD chemist Paul Palmer in the mid-1970s in Oakland, California. The zero-waste campaign earned publicity and was at its peak from 1998-2002. Afterwards, moving from “theory into action” focuses on how a zero-waste community is integrated and acts. New Zealand was the first country in the world to adopt the zero waste policy as a national goal. In contemporary times, many governments worldwide have declared zero waste as their national goal. Brazil, Canada, Italy, Japan, the US, UK and Sweden are on the top list of such governments.

Implementing zero-waste management policy in Pakistan:

Pakistan is an intricate country, and there is no doubt about it. We lately ascertained that during the covid-19 pandemic, it was challenging to implement the Covid-19 SOPs among the Pakistani masses. Hence, implementing a Zero-waste management policy and building awareness among the Pakistani masses is arduous. However, it is still viable as we know that when there is a will, there is a way. In the case of a country like Pakistan, the government should first step up enforcing and building awareness of this zero-waste management policy because it is often enunciated that the Pakistani masses only heed and function when someone superintends them. So, to implement this zero waste strategy in every organ of Pakistan’s society, it is the job of the government of Pakistan to acknowledge the significance of zero waste. The government of Pakistan should ascertain from models of those countries that have already implemented the zero-waste policy for better prospects in their country and the amelioration of humanity and planet earth.

Moreover, Pakistan should take this zero-waste movement earnestly as Pakistan is already generating approximately 49.6 million tons of solid waste a year, which has been soaring by more than 2.4 per cent annually. That is ominous for Pakistan because it already lacks proper waste-management infrastructure. Thus, implementing a zero-waste policy in Pakistan and making it popular among the masses will reduce Pakistan’s waste per annum and pave the way for a better environmental prospect for Pakistan. Furthermore, implementing this zero-waste policy by the government might be easy, but the real goal is to change society’s waste habits and to generate awareness among every organ of the masses, whether rich or poor.

Governmental and organisational level:

The following are suggestions and recommendations for zero-waste policy at the governmental or organisational level:

1) In the beginning, the Government of Pakistan should take legislative steps by recognising the importance of this policy and taking this policy of zero waste earnestly by putting their political differences aside.

2) After scheming the policy with the help of various environmentalists and other experts regarding zero waste, the country-specific budget should be allocated in the annual budget to fulfil the ends of the zero-waste policy.

3) A committee at the national or provisional level should oversee the implementation progress and other issues regarding zero-waste management.

4) The government should initially execute the zero-waste policy in small towns and villages as there is less ratio of both waste and population. Hence it will be convenient for the government to raise awareness at a trim level. This step will also enable them to manage results and changes; hence they will make significant changes in the policy for implementing the large metropolitans of the country.

5) The government should invest highly in advertisement employing social media, print media, radio, billboards, and other modes of advertisement.

6) The government should start implementing all the rules and conventions of zero-waste management at governmental offices and government educational institutions. Seminars and workshops regarding zero-waste management should be included in governmental officers’ promotion training programs.

7) The government should also educate the masses about zero-waste management techniques.

8) The government should also include the private and corporate sectors to collaborate and invest in enforcing awareness and building zero-waste habits among organisations, offices, companies, and all workplaces.

9) The current government can also enforce the zero-waste management policy effectively by tending to the PTI’s Government clean and green Pakistan initiative and utilising the same policy structure for zero waste management as they correspond a lot in terms of environmental paradigm shift.

University Level:

For various grounds, enforcing zero-waste management policy culture on university campuses is more straightforward than persuading in public. First, students are already apprised of the trends of zero waste worldwide at a higher educational level, and they know and concede the significance of zero-waste management and how restorative it is for their country and the environment. Second, university students are much more liable and mature to follow and build zero-waste habits on campus as they are conscious of the rising environmental hazards and calamities soon. However, again, we need to recall that every student does not take curiosity in such matters, so the question arises how do we make a university campus a zero-waste campus? Moreover, how can we infuse the ideology of zero-waste in every student?

1) Initially, after the government instructions and awareness of zero-waste management, the university head, like the Vice-chancellor, should put together substantial efforts and ways to implement zero-waste management on the campus.

2) The university’s vice-chancellor should form a committee comprising one member from every department. That personnel should be made in charge of monitoring, influencing and tending students to adopt zero-waste management practices in their respective departments.

3) An independent inspection team should be held that should monitor the progress of zero-waste management on the campus.

4) Lectures and awareness of zero-waste management policy should be compulsory to learn on campus.

5) If students are not interested, then deliberately force them to take interest by adding some percentage evaluation in their academic results. Then, the students who participated in zero-waste management activities should be awarded extra marks at the end of their semester.

6) University campus huge lawns and green areas should be utilised for techniques and methods of zero-waste management.

7) At the end of a year, the department which apply the zero waste initiatives most skillfully should be awarded the title of the fully zero-waste department hence motivating other departments to execute zero-waste management effectively.

8) The university administration should nudge the students to take this endeavour at the national level.

9) Students should be appreciated for their efforts for zero waste management on campus. They should be tasked with jotting research and essays on zero-waste policy.

All the steps mentioned earlier will help these rational university students take the zero-waste habits to their homes and communities. Hence they will also contribute and pave the way for building awareness among the general masses and communities.

Community or societal Level:

Spreading cognisance and changing the habits of the general masses regarding waste disposal is certainly not an easy task, and it will take some time. However, nothing is impossible. Thus, the government and the universities will ultimately pave the way for indulging the zero-waste habits in our general mass communities. A son or daughter studying in a specific university will ultimately influence his family, and they will tend to comprehend zero-waste management. So, what does it includes at our community level? The community level includes our home and the area where we dwell for various purposes of our lives. The kitchen is one good specimen for the community level.

We can carry out zero-waste in our kitchen by turning our trash can into a compost keeper and employing a tiny compost keeper as a trash can. In bathrooms, we should avoid buying new shampoo bottles and refill our bottles with bulk shampoo and conditioner. We can also limit plastic products in our bathrooms.

Moreover, let the house plants absorb toxins and clean air, opening a window instead of plugging in an air freshener. We should advise the population to use ceramic dishes and cloth napkins instead of plastic cutlery. For means of entertainment, we should inform the community to stop buying CDs and DVDs and download movies and music online on the internet. Our offices are part of our society hence we should operate refillable pens and stationary instead of buying again and again. Thus, at the community level, it is the assignment of every person and trustworthy citizen of Pakistan to play a role in carrying out the wave of zero-waste management. If implemented adequately, we will see a considerable change in Pakistan’s environment and ultimately, our country will be on the way to triumph.

Conclusion:

Mother Teresa once articulated, “I only feel angry when I see waste, and when I see people throwing away things we could use.” This quotation should be an eye opener for us.  Thus, we as patriotic citizens of Pakistan should acknowledge what type of Pakistan we want to leave for our future generations: a clean and green Pakistan or a troublesome Pakistan full of environmental hazards.  Moreover, it is under no circumstances too late to start over.  A wise man once said, “time spent among trees is never time wasted.”

Taha Amir is studying BS Defence and Strategic Studies at Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad

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