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From the once pristine rivers of Hindu Kush to the slums of Islamabad, Pakistan is being smothered by plastic due to a lack of public awareness, government inertia, and poor waste management.
Plastic bags are a large part of the problem—the nation uses some 55 billion of them each year, according to the Pakistan Plastic Manufacturers Association.
Beaches - Waste - Life - Bags - Countries
Beaches deluged with plastic waste and dying marine life entangled in bags have shocked other countries into action—around 120 have implemented some form of single-use plastic ban.
Pakistan is among them but struggles with enforcement. There is no cohesive national policy and regional efforts often fail to consider the importance of educational outreach—with many in rural areas claiming to be unaware of the damage single use plastic can wreak.
Environment - Knowledge - Salesman - Mohammad - Tahir
"Fighting for the environment? We have no knowledge about that," says salesman Mohammad Tahir, who uses plastic bags to wrap vegetables for his customers.
The 42-year-old hails from the mountainous Chitral district, which first banned the use of such bags two years ago—but to little effect.
Plastic - Bags - Resident - Khairul - Azam
"I like plastic bags," shrugs resident Khairul Azam, while shopping at a local market.
"Once home, I throw them away... I know it is not good, but we don't have waste bins in my neighbourhood," he adds.
Waste - Litters - Roadsides - Hillsides - Streams
Instead such waste litters the roadsides and hillsides. It also clogs the streams that feed into the Indus River, which is now the second most plastic polluted river in the world, behind only the Yangtze River in China, according to a study by the German Environmental Research Center Helmholtz.
Plastics - Arabian - Sea - Coastline - Sewers
Plastics swamp the Arabian Sea coastline, where the sewers of the sprawling port city of Karachi spew its waste.
According to the United Nations, single-use plastic bags kill up to one million birds, hundreds of thousands of marine mammals and turtles, along with "countless" fish each year.
Pakistan - Authorities
And yet in Pakistan, authorities...
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