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    Federal Minister Climate Change introduces a landmark and much-needed National Hazardous Waste Management Policy 2022 in the cabinet

    Federal Minister Climate Change introduces a landmark and much-needed National Hazardous Waste Management Policy 2022 in the cabinet

    Chitral Times Report

    ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman, introduced a landmark and much-needed National Hazardous Waste Management Policy 2022 in the cabinet, which voted with consensus on approving it to pass on to the provinces and for international compliance at the federal level. She said, “Before Pakistan becomes a dumping ground for our own and the world’s hazardous waste, the government has gone ahead and made a detailed national policy to manage hazardous waste. In line with our sustainable climate goals of protecting public health and the environment from the devastating impacts of chemicals and hazardous waste materials, and ensuring that our imports of such waste is tested for contaminants as well as managed instead of acting as a dumping ground for hazardous waste materials.

    We will be putting in place a policy for managing hazardous waste that works along scientific lines for the communities most affected by waste pollution. For this policy to go forward the cabinet has approved the strengthening of classification, transparency, institutional frameworks, a National Action Plan, and more stringent governance infrastructure for regulation of hazardous waste in the country and its international borders. “The mismanagement of hazardous waste materials has become a serious challenge for Pakistan. Our country has been importing all kinds of bundled waste from different parts of the world with an average annual tonnage of 80,000. To tackle this, we have devised a long-overdue policy.

    We need to get serious about managing our waste, separating it, and tracking it, instead of the unscientific and unregulated manner it has been handled over the years. The collection, treatment, and disposal of waste material have been causing significant harm to human health and the environment.” “We have completed all consultations with the provinces and AJK and GB, as mostly this policy will be up to them to implement, but it is crucial to start managing our hazardous waste as a united front with federal and provincial governments working together to protect our environment and people, particularly vulnerable communities at risk. Hazardous wastes are dangerous materials that can be toxic, ignitable, corrosive, reactive, and could take the form of solids, liquids, sludge, and contained gasses, generated primarily by chemical production, manufacturing, and other industrial activities. Examples include asbestos, hospital waste, electronics including computers, TVs, cell phone batteries, mercury-containing wastes such as thermometers, fluorescent lighting, switches, pesticides, cleaning and polishing chemicals, motor oils, kerosene, petrol, aerosols, propane cylinders, solvent-based paints.

    The UN has also listed plastics as hazardous waste now, voting to control the international trade in illegal dumping in developing countries. Countries that export their plastic and other hazardous waste must now obtain written permits before moving their waste. These often contain imported plastic scraps with higher amounts of contamination residuals, pest dumps, germs, and infections.” She said, “such wastes can potentially cause serious damage due to inadequate storage, transportation, treatment, or disposal operations. If we are unable to manage our hazardous-waste storage, and proper recycling then our own 30 million tonnes of waste every year without adequate disposal will contaminate both our surface water and groundwater supplies and can also wind up as a source of dangerous land pollution. Our far and few landfills are usually up to their capacity and cannot afford further dumping.” Talking about the health hazards caused by such waste, she said, “There are studies to suggest that illegal or poor waste management is the most important worldwide cause of contamination of soil and groundwater.

    This is especially important for e-waste that is largely imported into Pakistan. E-waste contains recognized hazardous substances that may be directly released or generated after disposal or during the recycling process. They pose life-threatening health risks for local communities that import the waste illegally. There is a risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes i.e. low birth weight, total birth defects, and effects on the central nervous system of the baby. Moreover, they can cause breathing problems, irritate skin or eyes, and cause headaches or nausea. These are especially true for people living near dumping grounds/sites or landfills. Pakistan has illegal dumping sites littered all over its cities near residential areas that pose a serious health risk for its citizens” Rehman said that a specialized directorate for managing Hazardous Waste would be established in the ministry to implement all the relevant provisions of the policy approved by the cabinet, in order to protect the people of Pakistan. She said it was also important for the country to be compliant with the Basel, Stockholm, Rotterdam, and Minamata conventions. The ministry will be working closely with industry and other relevant institutions in the country to bring down the scale of the damage hazardous chemicals and wastes cause to public health and the environment.

    The National Hazardous Waste Management Policy 2022 promotes a life cycle approach to manage hazardous waste from its generation to disposal in a manner that does not harm the environment. Moreover, as Pakistan shifts toward an industrial-driven economy, there is a higher likelihood of dumping of hazardous waste and poor management. Without a proper channel, awareness, or a policy in place, Pakistan will face a hazardous waste problem that will be too difficult to control. There are research and cost-benefit analyses in developed countries that have revealed the management of hazardous waste at its source is cheaper than cleaning the environment from hazardous waste later on. Preventing the waste from entering the environment is key to effective management of waste.”


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