One major aspect of protecting the nation’s environment is curbing pollution, especially non-biodegradable materials like plastic. The issue of packaging waste, notably plastic waste, is of particular public concern. About 3.3 million tons of plastic waste are produced each year in Pakistan.
Most of it ends in landfills, unmanaged dumps, or strewn about land and water bodies across the country due to the absence of proper collection and recycling infrastructure. Due to the unavailability of a legal framework, not only is sustainable collection and recycling of packaging waste questionable but there are also other challenges.
To address the packaging waste problem, Collect and Recycle (CoRe) has been formed in Pakistan, the first packaging alliance formed to eliminate packaging waste by enabling formal collection and recycling. CoRe is joined by the country’s leading industry players, NGOs, packaging firms, recyclers, retailers, and plastic manufacturers; it is a multi-sectoral alliance that commits to making 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.
CoRe comprises of 15 members so far including Coca-Cola, Ecolean Pakistan, FrieslandCampina Engro Pakistan Limited, Green Earth Recycling, METRO Pakistan, Nestlé Pakistan, Novatex, Packages, PepsiCo, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Synthetic Products Enterprises Limited (SPEL), Tetra Pak Pakistan, Unilever Pakistan, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and WWF-Pakistan.
“We envision the creation of a circular economy by reducing packaging footprint and encouraging sustainable and innovative practices. We also commit sustainable solutions to deal with the packaging waste problem, while adopting a collective action approach.” says Waqar Ahmad, Chief Executive Officer, CoRe Alliance.
In times to come, this alliance aims to improve post-consumer disposal, collection, and recycling of packaging waste and carry out public awareness campaigns relating to waste collection, segregation and recycling; and engage with policymakers in terms of introducing policies to promote sustainable business practices.
Sustainability is combining with other powerful trends to drive significant changes in consumer packaging. Industries are taking action on the issue, and Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies and other retailers are proactively making bold commitments to improve their packaging sustainability and fundamentally rethink their packaging systems.
However, this is not enough; government and other stakeholders have a critical role in waste collection and recycling. CoRe is working closely with the government for chalking out policies at the national level. Since it is a problem the country faces at large, it has to be dealt with forging collective action and taking concrete steps in this regard.