Unilever Pakistan Sets Out to Tackle Pakistan’s Mounting Plastic Waste Problem with #FaceThePlastic

As Covid-19 lockdowns began in early 2020, air pollution levels were reported to have plummeted considerably across the world. So much so that some people in India, a country where air pollution is among the world’s worst, reported seeing the Himalayas for the first time from where they lived. Similar news emerged from different parts of the world where air quality improved to unprecedented levels.

But as we found solace in cleaner pandemic skies amid a dark time of disease, little did we know how Covid-19 was about to trash the world’s recycling dream. The pandemic sparked a rush for plastic: The demand for single-use masks, face shields, gloves, gowns, takeaway food containers, and bubble wrap for online shopping soared to new heights, reversing all major strides made towards plastic waste reduction.

According to Science Magazine, the prioritization of human health over environmental health has led to the delay or reversal of policies aiming to reduce single-use plastic. This means that the pandemic has created dozens of times more plastic wasted than can be recycled. The situation inevitably puts a heightened strain on the health of or already ailing seas, which are projected to house more plastic than fish by 2050.

Pakistan’s mounting plastic waste problem

This is a matter of grave concern for countries like Pakistan where solid waste management remains an unmet challenge even in this day and age. Unruly urbanization, mounting population, and swelling tourism have made Pakistan’s creaking waste management systems weaker. And now, the Covid waste is set to put extra pressure on our waste management practices which can lead to inappropriate management strategies.

Unilever Pakistan, with its #FaceThePlastic campaign, has endeavored to tackle the plastic problem in the country. Recognizing that we must reimagine our relationship with plastic waste, and in line with its global strategy on plastic reduction, Unilever Pakistan has decided to take some drastic measures. With its #FaceThePlastic campaign, the multinational consumer goods company aims to reduce its virgin plastic packaging by 50%, and help collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells.

 

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Covid plastic waste poses a greater threat

The Covid plastic waste poses a greater threat to us than the regular plastic waste: Besides environmental destruction – as it would all eventually end up in the oceans – Covid waste can also potentially lead to further spread of the virus as it’s not properly disposed of. While the virus might go away one day or another, the hazardous effect of Covid-19 plastic waste might live on forever.

That’s why the #FaceThePlastic campaign also aims to educate the masses on the importance of minimizing plastic waste alongside its own drastic plastic reduction measures. The clear vision of Unilever Pakistan behind the campaign is to ensure that plastic stays in the economy but out of the environment. In Pakistan, over 3.3M tons of plastic is wasted each year – twice the height of K2 – a challenge that #FaceThePlastic is geared to tackle.

 

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Unilever Pakistan’s #FaceThePlastic pilot in Rahim Yar Khan

Unilever Pakistan, with their plastic commitment, have taken the first step towards the bold new ambition by introducing a system to collect the plastic waste in Rahim Yar Khan Estate, with more than 200 households residing in the community. From there, the waste will be redirected to relevant recyclers and waste to energy converters.

In partnership with UNDP and with participation from the country’s top packaging suppliers, Unilever Pakistan planned and executed a four-day deep dive session of the plastics system in Rahim Yar khan city. In the conclusion of the deep dive session, Unilever & UNDP Pakistan signed an MoU to work with the local innovators, industry, and government to develop systemic solutions for the transition towards a circular economy for plastics waste.

 

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Convinced that it’s time for Pakistan to step up and face the challenge of plastic, Unilever Pakistan is looking for trusted partners who can help reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic waste in Pakistan. If you too have an idea or an ongoing business to make our society a better place to live in, then just fill this simple form, and the Unilever Pakistan team will get in touch with you! Together we can #FaceThePlastic, together we can save our planet!



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