It is important to note that the term plastics is used as an umbrella term for a variety of materials, called synthetic polymers. The use of these materials has become increasingly widespread in the production of a variety of different goods. The use of plastics is mainly owed to tremendous economic benefits: it is easy, cheap and accessible, which is particularly important in regions of economic instability. However, the disadvantages are harrowing. Most of these plastics are single use, which means that half of all plastics are used only once, usually for a short-term purpose such as transport or packaging, and then discarded. In Pakistan, more than 3.3 million tonnes of plastic are discarded each year, most of which finds its way into landfills, dumps water bodies. vii
Pakistan also has the highest percentage of mismanaged plastic in South Asia. Combined, this waste could amount to as high as 16500 m, the height of two of the K2 mountains, the world’s second highest mountains in the world.
The packaging industry is a very important stakeholder in Pakistan’s plastic problem. Containers and packaging make up a major portion of municipal solid waste (MSW), amounting to 80.1 million tons of generation in 2017 (29.9 percent of total generation).viii About 250 million tons of garbage in Pakistan primarily consists of plastic bags, PET bottles and food scraps. ix