LAHORE: Several countries that have ratified the ban amendment to the Basel Convention are dumping plastic scrap in Pakistan.
According to Customs data, in August, approximately 41 percent of the total scrap released by the Lahore Dry Ports was from the UK.
The data also revealed that 49 percent of scrap imported in August is from OECD and EU countries, including the UK, Germany and Holland who have ratified ban amendment, and as per the Basel Convention, they cannot export hazardous product to developing countries such as Pakistan who neither have proper recycling facilities nor have strict government mechanism to control the menace of hazardous plastic scrap. Till August, Pakistan imported approximately 18,200 metric tons of plastic scrap with more than 95 percent of the scrap being released from various dry ports in Lahore.
Year to date, a staggering 5,000 tons of scrap has been imported from the UK.
The ban amendment provides prohibition by each party (parties and other states, which are members of the OECD) of all trans-boundary movements to the states not included in Annex VII of hazardous wastes covered by the convention that are intended for final disposal, ie, it prohibits trans-boundary movements of hazardous wastes, which are destined for final disposal / recycling / recovery operations from OECD to non-OECD states.
However, despite this provision, export of such shipment continued unabated, sources said. Moreover, the sources said that the reason for release of hazardous waste at dry ports is clearance based on visual inspection by one of the pre-eminent inspection companies in Pakistan, which was only conducting “eyewash testing” on the basis of visual inspection and Gama radiations.
Both the techniques are completely inadequate in assessing whether a product contains pathogens, drugs or toxic heavy metals, ie, components that the Basel Convention warns against.
In other words, a sheer lack of awareness and apathy to environmental risks is putting the life of millions of Pakistanis, including those involved in handling, processing and utilising this scrap as a finished product, at a tremendous risk. The sources demanded the Pakistan government to take up the issue with the governments concerned since these are a ban amendment signatory.
It is in contradiction to its own commitment regarding waste management that it allows the export of scrap to an underdeveloped country such as Pakistan, which neither has proper recycling facilities nor any system pertaining to scrap/waste management. Internews