LAHORE - Around 95 per cent people throughout the country have completely switched over to polythene bags, known as plastic bags, despite the governments ban on production, import, marketing, sale, display, storage, and distribution and carrying of polythene bags. According to sources in Federal Environment Ministry, 95 per cent people use plastic bags, 3 per cent paper bags, 1 per cent cloth bags and 1 per cent baskets. Sources say that a number of ministers in the Federal Cabinet engaged in the business of plastic bag industry are hurdle in the implementation of ban on plastic bags. The ministers oppose the ban saying that imposing ban on use of plastic bags was not solution to the problem. They said plastic shopping bag industry was the third top revenue generating industry and putting ban would affect economy that was in deep crisis. They said that only 30 micron plastic bag should be allowed as it is not harmful. Everywhere 15 micron plastic bag is used which is harmful. So, the 15 micron plastic bag can be converted into 30 micron instead of banning the production, they added. They said that public education campaigns about littering and recycling could help more than ineffective bans on products that are used every day by billions of people worldwide. In April, 2009 Environment Ministry announced that issue of plastic bags, causing serious harm to the environment, would be resolved this year. It said that laws regarding ban on use of plastic bags already existed but these laws were not being implemented. Sources say that everyday, millions of plastic shopping bags are thrown away in cities, towns and villages. Only 10-15 percent is put in dustbins, the rest ended up in drains, sewage channels and open spaces. 80 percent of the drains in different cites are blocked because of polythene bags. Blocked drains force sewer water into drinking water supplies, causing waterborne diseases. The practice of burning plastic bags produces dioxins and furans, which are excessively and extensively inhaled by the people. A recently held Gallup Pakistan survey reveals plastic bags have become the principal means of bringing home groceries and other shopping items. The use of traditional means such as cloth bags and paper bags has dropped dramatically. Polythene bags recycling causes release of hydrogen cyanide gas which may lead to breathing difficulties and chest problems. Commonly known as 'shoppers, these plastic bags are available in all sizes, shapes and colours and because of their lightweight, flexibility and low cost they are used and cast off freely. The black bags are considered more dangerous to environment as compared to white bags, because when polythene bags are recycled they are given black colour and these kinds of bags are completely non-degradable. Currently, countries that have banned or limited the use of plastic disposables include India, Bangladesh and Bhutan. In Singapore, retailers are discouraging shoppers from using plastic bags. According to different studies, more than a million birds, marine mammals and sea life dies every year from eating plastic. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of oceans. It may be recalled that The Lahore High Court, in 2008, has directed the Punjab government to enact legislation within six months to put an absolute ban on manufacture, sale, marketing use and import of polythene shopping bags of all kinds throughout the Punjab. The court ruled that as the Punjab government had already introduced a ban on the use of black polythene bags and or nay the bags below 15 micron thickness through the Ordinance 2002, it would ensure strict enforcement and compliance of provisions of the ordinance and register criminal cases against the offenders under the said law and Pakistan Penal Code until the government passes legislation on the subject. Only 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled worldwide and the rest, when discarded, can persist for centuries. Theyre so aerodynamic that even when theyre properly disposed of in a trash-can, they can still blow away and become litter. Its as litter that plastic bags have the most baleful effect.