Despite danger consequences, plastic bags sold unabated
KABUL (Pajhwok): A ban on producing and selling plastic bags was imposed in the country five years ago, but the restriction lasted a few days and the bags have since been sold across the country unabated and unchecked.
Five years ago, the then Cabinet had directed municipalities to prevent shops from packing goods, particularly eatables, into plastic bags.
A year later, the Cabinet took another decision asking the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to ban production of plastic bags and their imports through customs offices.
Public Health Ministry officials say in addition to causing environmental hazards, plastic bags containing polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene and polystyrene cause cancer, kidney and throat ailments, infertility, heart diseases and reproductive problems.
Despite all these threats plastic bags pose to humans’ health, the industrial product is openly sold and hot foods are carried into these bags.
A plastic bags selling shop “Zarghan Plastic” owner Mohammad Nawab in Kabul’s Abdul Salam Kakar Market told Pajhwok Afghan News that the bags were openly sold.
About the Cabinet decision five years ago, he said after the decision, the municipality ordered closed shops selling plastic bags for three days and then allowed the shops to reopen. “Since then, there is no ban on sale of plastic bags.”
Another seller, Mukhtar, held similar views and said he sold plastic bags made in Iran, Pakistan and China.
A bakery worker, Ghulam Mohammad, in Dehamzang area of Kabul, was seen packing hot breads into plastic bags. “We also understand that hot breads develop a bad taste when carried in plastic bags, but customers who take the bread far away demand plastic bags...”
He said few years ago the Kabul municipality provided bakeries with cotton bags and charged 10 afghanis per bag, but customers refused to buy them.
Kabul municipality official Dr. Mohammad Idrees Tokhi when asked why they could not prevent sale of plastic bags said after the Cabinet decision, they took some measures and confiscated a container full of plastic bags from sellers.
“But representatives of shopkeepers and industrialists visited then president (Hamid Karzai) and told him that they had a huge quantity of raw and processed plastic in stocks and they would incur huge losses, so the president temporary allowed the sales.” He said the former president had temporarily allowed the sales, but four years on, plastic bags continued to be sold.
Pajhwok Afghan News tried seek comment from the presidential spokesmen, but contract could not be established.
Public Health Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ismail Kawosi said the ministry through a series of gatherings and workshops and the media had tried to create awareness among the people about the hazards of plastic bags use.
“We have fulfilled out responsibility to a great extent. We have published a lot of information about dangers plastic bags pose to people’s health.”
Experts say plastic bags are not biodegradable and burning them also leads to different diseases and their prolific use in daily life also causes environmental hazards.
Studies reveal that 500 billion plastic bags are used per year worldwide, but it is not known how much bags are used in Afghanistan.
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