Islamabad, 25 November 2023 (TDI): The panel titled ‘Circular Economy in Pakistan- The Untapped Potential of Waste to Resource’ presented by the Institute of Urbanism and Heinrich Boll Stiftung at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute’s 26th annual Sustainable Development Conference (SDC).
The conference focused on the challenges and opportunities related to waste management in Pakistan and highlighted the importance of transitioning from a linear economy to a circular one. The diverse group of experts shared valuable insights and perspectives on waste management in the country.
Mehrunisa Malik, COO of Saaf Suthra Sheher, discussed this field’s business challenges and opportunities. Farah Rashid, Sustainability Lead at Engro Foundation, emphasized the importance of resource efficiency and support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Albeit, Dr Bishnu Raj Upreti, Research Director at NCCR, provided insights into successful circular economy cases in South Asia. Li Stephanie Choo from ESCAP explored global trends in waste management.
Moreover, Dr Ali Malik, Deputy Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Youth Program, highlighted the crucial role of youth in addressing waste management issues.
Ayesha Majid, Senior Program Coordinator at the Institute of Urbanism, presented research findings on waste as a resource. She portrayed a comprehensive view of Islamabad and Lahore’s current waste management landscape.
However, 35% of Islamabad residents and 10.3% of Lahore residents engage in waste segregation for economic reasons by selling recyclables. Although, 24% of Islamabad residents and 12.3% of Lahore residents resort to burning waste.
The research report highlights the pressing issue of waste management in Pakistan, with an annual production of 50 million metric tons of waste.
The findings emphasize the need for municipal intervention in waste management and support for waste segregation at the household level. There are significant disparities in waste segregation practices between Islamabad and Lahore.
However, the average person generates 0.4-1.4kg of waste per day, with a significant amount being recyclable. In Islamabad, over 1000 tons of waste are generated daily, with much of it improperly disposed of.
Moreover, this highlights the need for businesses to adopt environmentally responsible practices and innovate in waste management. Effective management of Municipal Solid Waste in South Asia is a challenge. Albeit, there are also successful waste-based enterprises operating within a circular economy framework.
Dr. Bishnu Raj Upreti provided insights into reusing waste in South Asia. Private sector entities in Pakistan play a crucial role in addressing waste management challenges and promoting sustainable waste practices.
Albeit, they can encourage youth and SMEs to participate in circular economy and waste-to-resource initiatives. Engro’s Circular Plastics program has three components: a pilot unit to reduce plastic waste. Moreover, an institute to develop a zero-plastic waste future, and a seed investment fund to support circular plastics business models.
Farah Rashid stresses the importance of private sector leadership and collaboration in promoting a circular economy for plastics in Pakistan. A circular economy benefits the environment and employment, but a gender perspective is crucial.
However, Women are key in waste management, and empowering them leads to a more inclusive approach in Pakistan. Stephanie Choo advocates for diverse perspectives in creating sustainable solutions.
Dr Ali Malik stressed youth involvement in waste management to promote a circular economy. He emphasized the government’s role in encouraging a green mindset and providing entrepreneurial opportunities in eco-friendly sectors.
Furthermore, the panel discussed policy obstacles, economic growth challenges, and learning from neighboring countries. The collaborative effort aims to speed up solid waste management transformation in Pakistan, with a focus on engaging youth in sustainable economic models.