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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Nestlé’s sea cleaning drive: A step for clean Pakistan

Karachi, the metropolitan of Pakistan is among top polluted cities of world. Nestle Pakistan in its drive for a "Clean and Green Pakistan" took up the responsibility to clean Karachi's beach to save the marine life and visitors from the waste that lies around.

Aydan Hussain |

Karachi – the country’s biggest city, and one of the world’s leading cosmopolitans has long been plagued with a pollution problem. Unplanned city growth, especially in clusters, and lack of civic services, have made this ever-expanding city face a major issue of waste management.

The waste needs to be discarded sustainably, but how, is a question that the administration has been trying to find an answer to for quite a while.

Broken sewerage lines, draining right into the Sea View beach hotspot of the Arabian Sea in Karachi, directly accessible by the populace, speaks volumes of what may be happening along the less densely populated shoreline.

Sea pollution is a major problem, and studies show that in a few decades the oceans will contain more plastic than marine life.

Nestlé is taking steps and introducing various initiatives in its manufacturing units and beyond, to demonstrate its respect for the future

Earlier last week, Nestlé, launched a drive to clean the beaches of Karachi’s shoreline, as part of its volunteer program – Nestlé Cares. The drive constituted gathering and sorting of plastics along Sea View and disposing them off in proper waste collection vehicles.

Minister of Environment, Climate Change & Coastal Development, Government of Sindh, Taimur Talpur who joined the volunteers as chief guest on the occasion vowed all possible measures to curtail marine pollution caused through civic and industrial sources.

“This has to be a continuous effort from everyone, not just the government,” said Talpur, who highlighted that while the responsibility lay with the government and district administration to manage waste, it was also a civic duty for people and industries collectively.

“The onus of responsibility lies on every individual and every industry, and it’s time we own up to it,” he said. Talpur, who is managing multiple ministerial portfolios in the Sindh government, including science, information and technology, other than environment, has become very proactive in this current tenure of the Sindh government post-election.

Earlier this month, there were news reports recently that the Sind Environment Protection Agency’s laboratory testing and monitoring capabilities were severely compromised due to financial constraints.

Lamenting the plight, Talpur said, “Had the federal government released the funds, the effluent plants would have been functional.”

Read more: Nestle’s Rural Sales Program helps women out of poverty

But the minister lauded Nestlé’s efforts. “Nestlé’s program is very encouraging and I commend them for their role in fostering a behavior change starting from within by educating, engaging and mobilizing individuals and by providing them the means to act and contribute towards impactful change. It’s high time that more organizations such as Nestlé take part and play their role in shaping a waste-free future.”

However, he added, “while there are a lot of industries that are cooperating with the environmental guidelines set by the EPA, sadly there are also others that have a total disregard, especially local companies, and as a last resort I’d be constrained to send them closure notifications if they don’t comply.”

Naeem Qureshi, President, National Forum for Environment & Health, who partnered for this cause also highlighted Nestlé’s global commitments on plastics.

“We are aware that Nestlé is taking steps and introducing various initiatives in its manufacturing units and beyond, to demonstrate its respect for the future.”

Nestle Aims For Clean and Green Pakistan

The world’s leading food and beverage company, on a global level, believes that with the right approach, plastic packaging can be collected or recycled without having a detrimental impact. It is aiming that by 2025, 100% of its packaging should be recyclable or reusable.

But there is a question mark over whether other local and international organizations have the same aim? Where the provincial government’s environment department has come under a lot of flak in the last few years for its performance – there is also gaping void in the policy-making front.

Appropriate legislation, rules and procedures are not in place, and those that are, are not coherent with the latest scientific research. Rules need amendment, legislation needs to be drafted and a comprehensive policy framework has to be in place if environmental impact has to be dealt with the iron hand that Talpur promises. The government should make sure that the legislation it brings in is drafted after taking into consideration the opinion of all stakeholders and has realistic timelines.

Read more: Information Minister visits Nestle factory, appreciates facilities and standards

“Even though a lot of harm has come to the environment, things are not as bleak that they cannot be reversed, we still have time to act and we are acting now,” he said.

Nestlé and other companies are exploring alternate means of packaging to curtail the growing plastics issue. But there are a lot of challenges that both the government and the private sector face.

Talpur said, “As a startup case I banned plastic bags in Sukkur, through a cabinet decision and I have tried to ensure that only oxy-biodegradable standard plastic be used.”

“But during my last visit, I was shocked to see that the same plastic bags that were being used before, and were supposed to be banned, were being used again with the oxy-biodegradable stamp on them,” he remarked, citing that challenges are immense and it will take a while to get a grip on this issue.

Marine pollution is a problem that needs a multipronged, multifaceted solution and action across the board. The government needs to empower the relevant departments, but also make sure that mere drafting of policy framework will not lead to a solution – their effective implementation across the board will yield positive results.

Where multinational companies are compliant, not because of the deterrence of local rules, but global guidelines; local food, beverage, textile, cement and companies from other sectors need to be cognizant of these regulations as well, so that their implementation can have a profound impact on the environment.