By Ali Jabir/Aftab Zahoor
LAHORE, Aug 13 (APP): Pakistan is grappling with the whooping impacts of environmental degradation and global warming casting formidable changes to environment and natural habitats of the country.
Most of its freshwater reserves are getting polluted with solid waste as it generates around 30 million metric tons of municipal solid waste per year with only its 50% getting collected.
In the middle of this climate crisis the light at the end of the tunnel is ‘plastics’, recycling of single-use items leftover into reusable products and industrial raw materials turns the tide in the shape of a sustainable solution to the issue.
Since Pakistan is far behind the developed nations in waste recycling some scattered initiatives by companies and individuals showing a ray of hope about using solid waste for positive purposes.
The most polluted city during smog season, Lahore, has championed recycling the increasing solid waste generated in the walled city paving the way for young innovators and fledgling startups to exploit the untapped black gold of solid waste for eco-friendly solutions.
Mentioning Greed Earth Recycling, Lasani Fiber Industries and Tetra Pak as pioneers in this business would not be out of context they are aggressively working on waste recycling into reusable eco-friendly material.
“We produce multiple daily use items like benches, tables, wracks, makeshift bathrooms etc from plastic waste. Our products are not only used locally but also exported to other countries,” said Bilal Ahmed, Business Head of Green Earth Recycling project.
“We also produce manhole covers from plastic waste and have installed 350 at Lahore’s,” he informed. “The company was also selling six-layer wood pulp extracted from Tetra Pak for Rs 100 per kg that has four layers of plastics, one of aluminum and one of paper.”
He said the machinery used at the project was previously imported from Germany, China and Taiwan but now we are also focusing on indigenization. “Our products are environment friendly as we do not use any chemical during processing and segregation of plastics for recycling.”
Bilal Ahmed stated that the Company also creates staple fiber from plastic bottles to prepare non-concrete and water, snow and pests resistant washrooms and kitchens, comprising 95% recycled material.
As International Tetra Pak acknowledges Green Earth as the first company to give solutions to Tetra Pak recycling, the company has the capacity to recycle 450 tons of different types of plastic waste and 100 tons of packaging material.
As less heed was often paid to this sector, the Institute of Urbanism (IoU) and Heinrich Böll Stiftung took an initiative to provide firsthand knowledge to opinion makers about waste collection, landfill sites and waste recycling during their visit to Mahmood Booti and Lakhodair dumping sites.
Lasani Fiber Industries is another leading company in plastic bottles recycling and manufacturing regenerated, recycled or carded polyester fiber from PET bottles.
“Last year we recycled approximately more than 18000 metric tons (Six million) bottles. One of our collection site is Pepsico factories as we are also working with Coca-cola, Nestle and others,” informed an official of the company.
“Our company prepares 32 products from PET bottles also having a capacity of daily producing 55 tons of polyester fiber,” he said and informed that some 11,000 tons of PET bottles were recycled from January 2023 to July 2023 although 170,000 Mt bottles were annually produced in Pakistan for beverages industry.
Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) is another entity functioning in the city for waste collection and disposal in Lahore.
“LWMC is the largest public enterprise engaged in waste collection, transportation and its scientific disposal,” stated the company CEO, Babar Sahibdin.
“However waste segregation at source and enclosures were being modeled with the help Non-Governmental Organization NGOs.”
He said a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Harvard University and LUMS to conduct research on waste management solutions. “We have digitized our fleet by using Artificial Intelligence with the help of LUMS to optimize its capability.”
The Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) was also engaged in developing an application to manage large-scale staff through geo-fencing and face recognition, he said.
“We have developed a model of proper charging for waste collection as presently we charge a nominal Rs 50 per month from a commercial enterprise like shop and a tipping fee of Rs 700 per ton for dumping waste at LWMC sites,” Babar said.
He also informed that the Company with the cooperation of all universities is working on smart dumpsters or bins that can gauge waste level or stink to be collected through a technology-based solution.
“We are working with a Ukrainian company ONVI for metal recycling and also floated an EOI with the Punjab Power Development Company for a feasibility of 50MW energy production by recycling 3000 tons waste,” he said.
Since the country generates millions of tons recyclable solid waste annually, there is a dire need for evolving a mechanism to fully capitalize the waste recycling potential in the country as practiced by developed nations.
This exercise would not only ensure a cleaner environment in the country but also propose alternate options for energy generation and manufacturing other environment-friendly products.