Global Partnership on Waste Management


Submitted by Punjab State Government

(Note: Punjab State Government did not prioritize waste streams)

Summary of information
Highest priority waste streams
Highest priority areas of capacity building
1. Technical and scientific
2. Policy and regulatory
3. Financial
Narrative summary
Punjab State Government’s responses to the needs assessment survey show that Pakistan needs better equipment and facilities for waste management. Due to a lack of facilities such as landfills, the illegal dumping of waste is common, and efforts by the general public and the private sector are rare. Therefore better policies and regulations also need to be made and enforced, although obstacles include political interference into environmental institutions, whereas waste management expertise would instead be desired.

Industrial waste
The responses suggest that public institutional capacity for the implementation of industrial waste policies needs strengthening in Pakistan. While policies exist, they are ineffective as they are not complimented by regulations that can be legally enforced by environmental institutions. The public sector also does not currently have the technical capacity, in terms of facilities, to handle industrial waste. Thus regulatory and scientific capacity is in need of strengthening. The responses note that alternatively, Pakistan could implement policies encouraging industries to participate in waste management at source. However, industrialists are generally unaware of the environmental hazards of untreated industrial waste. Smaller, local industries also lack the financial capacity to construct waste management facilities. Therefore, implementing waste treatment at source would require public educational and financial capacity-building.

Municipal solid waste (MSW)
According to the responses, dumping of waste on roadsides, canals, and low-lying land is common in Pakistan, while very few landfills are in operation (no permanent landfills are to be found in the capital, Islamabad). In light of these problems, the institutional capacity of the public sector emerges as a primary area for strengthening in Pakistan. While MSW policies exist, implementation levels are poor due to ill-equipped governmental institutions. Governmental environmental institutions are generally directed by politicians or public sector workers who do not have enough knowledge on waste management. Waste management experts need to participate in environmental governance in order to improve MSW management in the country. Furthermore, waste disposal practices in society need to be improved. There is little awareness of the health and environmental hazards generated by untreated or dumped MSW; community participation will be needed for policies to be effective. The implementation of MSW policies will finally require a sound source of funding to environmental institutions.

Hazardous waste
Hazardous waste is mainly generated by industries and hospitals in Pakistan. The responses show that these waste generators are primary targets for capacity building. Industries do not have the financial resources to install waste management facilities such as incinerators, while industrialists are also generally unaware of waste management principles. Waste collection in industries and hospitals is performed by staff with no training on hazardous waste management. Hazardous waste is often dumped alongside MSW, creating risks for the staff themselves and the public. Aside from waste generators, governmental capacity for hazardous waste management also needs to be built. Hazardous waste is not addressed specifically within environmental policy, especially as policymaking processes do not involve waste management experts. Public waste management facilities are few in number and generally old. Institutional capacity thus also requires building.

Organic waste
Above all, a policy needs to be made addressing organic waste in Pakistan. Organic waste is not tackled separately in legislation, but assumed to be part of MSW. Waste segregation issues are not addressed by policy. Technical and scientific research on organic waste is also absent, partly due to financial concerns, and a lack of institutional initiative. Consequently, public awareness of waste segregation and the possibility of composting are also low. Despite the need for organic waste to be treated as a separate waste stream from general MSW, a basic degree of composting is already practiced in many areas of Pakistan. Technical capacity is nevertheless adequate and the quality of compost produced is low.

Waste agricultural biomass (WAB)
The responses suggest that WAB management capacities need to be built primarily within the agricultural sector. Awareness and understanding of the use of WAB is very poor, given that many farmers are illiterate and environmental education is non-existent. Generally, WAB is burnt, causing air pollution and destroying a potential resource. The agricultural sector thus needs to be made aware of WAB management techniques, while economic instruments must be used to encourage environmentally sound management practices. Finally, an organization or an institution needs to be made responsible for WAB management, as none are currently dedicated to this activity, and no WAB policies have been developed.

Healthcare waste
Regarding healthcare waste management, capacities need to be built in both the healthcare sector and governmental institutions. Hospitals generally lack the financial resources to contribute to healthcare waste management. Skilled human resources are scarce and healthcare waste is often treated as part of MSW. Hence, both the financial and technical capacities of the healthcare sector must be strengthened for the practice of waste management at source. While healthcare waste is covered by legislation, it is not effectively enforced. Rag-picking and informal recycling of healthcare waste is illegal, but there are no means of enforcement given that healthcare waste is found alongside MSW. Waste treatment facilities such as incinerators exist, but are generally run-down and not manned by skilled personnel. Thus the capacity of governmental institutions needs to be built in order to effectively implement policy.

Pakistan imports a large amount of electronic equipment from developed countries, and generates a large amount of e-waste. However, the waste stream is not addressed by policy, and there are no environmental institutions responsible for its management. The responses suggest that negligence of e-waste can be partly explained by a lack of technical understanding of its health and environmental hazards, and safe means of treatment and disposal. Institutional capacity, in terms of the enactment of a policy, the delegation of tasks, and the procurement of technology and funds, needs to be built regarding e-waste.

Waste plastics
Pakistan lacks a comprehensive policy addressing the management of waste plastics, particularly with regards to recycling. Heavy use of plastic bags as well as littering habits has negatively impacted the country’s water management system, with sewers being clogged by waste plastics, causing urban flooding. To enact and enforce a policy on waste plastics, Pakistan needs to create an effective waste collection system. Waste collection is currently chaotic due to the abundance of unorganized informal recyclers and rag-pickers. Furthermore, scientific research needs to be undertaken to improve the technical capacity of the public sector in waste management. Finally, the recycling industry must also be strengthened so as to reduce the financial burden upon the public sector in waste management projects.