Ban on Plastic Bags: Shopkeepers in KPK Want Them Back

A number of shopkeepers and businessmen have decided to challenge the KPK government for banning plastic bags and other products.

The written petition has been submitted by Haji Deedar Khan — who is leading the protest — in Peshawar High Court on behalf of all the concerned Khyber Pakhtunkhwa shopkeepers and businessmen.

The notification was issued by KP’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which not only prohibits the usage of non-biodegradable plastic but also the black oxo-biodegradable plastic products.

Moreover, the notification also states two additional things:

  1. Minimum thickness of oxo-biodegradable plastic product thickness to be at least 50 microns.
  2. Goods must be marked as ‘recycled plastic unsafe for contact with food.’

The EPA did not just stop at the sale of the banned plastic products but they also revoked all the licenses issued for the sale and import of the banned products. Even though black oxo-biodegradable plastic can only be used for garbage purposes, not for commercial purposes.

‘Violation of Fundamental Rights’

The representative of businessmen and shopkeepers who buy and sell oxo-biodegradable plastic, Mian Mihibullah Kakakhel, voiced his opinion and termed EPA’s notification as a ‘violation of fundamental rights.’

Kakakhel argued that in a developing country like Pakistan, it is difficult to suddenly shift from products which are being used so commonly. He said that in some developing countries its’s impracticable and impossible to stop the sale of products that are used for commercial purpose, and for various household chores.

Kakakhel said

It is tantamount to rendering them jobless, they have to be provided with an alternative before imposing a complete ban.

The court comprising of Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Rohul Amin admitted the case for full hearing and issued notices to respondents including DG KP EPA and Deputy Commissioner Peshawar.

EPA Not Entirely Wrong

Under Section 7, clause XII of K-P Environmental Protection Act 2014, the provincial EPA department has the power to ban an activity, work, mobility or transport within a particular area by declaring it environmentally sensitive.

However, the power can be misused if it is not backed by hard evidence. Pollution is already taking its toll in Pakistan with floods in summer, smog in winter, etc. The government needs to carry out steps to keep the country clean. However, there may be a need to educate the public and assist them in making the change.