Investing in environmental sustainability can serve as an insurance policy for health and human well-being. A healthy environment is integral to the full enjoyment of basic human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation, and quality of life. A healthy environment is basically a pollution-free environment with clean air, a stable climate, adequate water, sanitation and hygiene, safe use of chemicals, protection from radiation, healthy and safe workplaces, sound agricultural practices, health-supportive cities and built environments.
One of the major causes of environmental pollution is the mismanagement of waste material. The world generates 2 billion tons of municipal solid waste, including residential, commercial, and institutional waste which is expected to grow to 3.4 billion tons by 2050 (Asian Development Bank Report,2021). Lack of waste management is creating serious environmental issues and threatening the health and welfare of the general population.
In Pakistan, achieving a clean and healthy environment is still a task. Pakistan generates 49.6 million tons of municipal solid waste each year, increasing by 2.4 per cent annually (International Trade Administration,2022). About 60-70 per cent of the country’s solid waste is collected, and the remaining waste is either burned, dumped, or buried on vacant lots, further accelerating climate change. The government is making every possible effort to promote a clean and healthy lifestyle in the country.
To protect the environment and people’s health from the hazardous impacts of waste material, the government has approved National Hazardous Waste Management Policy 2022. This policy will work along scientific lines for the communities that are most affected by waste pollution. It will act as a national action plan for regulation of hazardous waste in the country and its international borders. Pakistan has been importing all kinds of bundled waste from different parts of the world with an average annual tonnage of 80,000. In these imported waste bundles, there are also some hazardous waste materials included that could be toxic, ignitable, corrosive, or reactive, causing significant harm to human health and the environment.
However, The National Hazardous Waste Management Policy will promote a life cycle approach to manage hazardous waste from its generation to disposal in a manner that does not harm the environment. Moreover, as Pakistan is shifting towards an industrial-driven economy, there is a higher likelihood of dumping of hazardous waste and poor management. Without a proper policy in place, Pakistan will face a hazardous waste problem that will be too difficult to control.