Located on Karakoram Highway at an altitude of 2,500 meters above sea level, Hunza is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Pakistan with almost 1.2 million tourists having visited the region in 2018, and with the success of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s visit to the northern areas, further growth happened in 2019, slowed only by the Corona pandemic in 2020.
Home to lush green meadows, dazzling blue rivers and huge glaciers, Hunza Valley is dubbed as the ‘Switzerland of Asia’. This picturesque valley nestled between the snowy mountain-tops has always been considered the top tourist destination by locals and foreigners alike. However, as the area becomes more populated it is facing a massive issue of environmentally friendly waste management.
Environmental waste management is essential in maintaining the cleanliness of our surroundings upon which the population’s health and the conservation of the area depends. In cases where waste management is not practiced, issues related to sanitation and health safety arise. Water and soil pollution is another adverse effect of poorly managed waste.
Amidst all of this, Nestlé Pakistan recently stepped-up efforts under the Clean Hunza Project by installing a machine for bailing and compressing packaging waste in Hunza in line with its global vision for a waste-free future. Nestlé is an active participant in worldwide environment preservation.
In Pakistan, the company’s ambition towards Creating Shared Values (CSV) is the main driving force behind its contribution towards addressing the climate change challenge and the country’s waste management issues. Launched in 2019, Clean Hunza Project is part of District Council Hunza’s initiative on waste management, in partnership with Nestlé Pakistan, Gilgit Baltistan Waste Management Company (GBWMC) and KADO.
Clean Hunza Project focuses on waste segregation and recycling system for Hunza by encouraging waste management of 200,000 kgs of plastics in 2021, eventually leading up to 1000 tons by 2025 to make Hunza waste-free and promote sustainable tourism in the region. Inaugurating the bailing and compressing machine unit, Faiz Ahmed, Deputy Commissioner Hunza said, “I am thankful to Nestlé Pakistan for promoting sustainable tourism in the region and fulfilling our dream of clean green Hunza.
The first truckload of compressed plastic bails to be transported downstream will complete the cycle of waste minimization and promote the circular economy.” As a socially responsible company, which is committed to positively impacting individuals and families, communities and the planet, Nestle has taken up the challenge to initiate waste management in the valley of Hunza.
Highlighting Nestlé’s global vision for a waste-free future, Waqar Ahmad, Head of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Nestlé Pakistan said, “We are accelerating our actions to reduce the environmental impact of various kinds of packaging waste. Our vision is that none of our packaging, including plastics, ends up in landfill nor in oceans, lakes and rivers.” Non- biodegradable plastic bottles and bags are a serious cause of environmental pollution in the world.
It is significantly worse in South Asia and if we look at Pakistan alone, around 164,332 tons of plastic are dumped into the Indus River every year. “Tackling packaging waste requires a collective approach and we are committed to finding improved solutions to reduce, reuse and recycle. To achieve this, we have set ourselves the commitment of ensuring 100% of our packaging is reusable or recyclable by 2025 and this initiative is a step in that direction,” said Mr Ahmad.
This project marks Nestlé Pakistan’s efforts to reduce the environmental impact of packaging waste by improving its management and recycling, in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals 12 and 17 – Responsible Consumption & Production and Partnership for Goals. Globally, Nestlé continues to play a leading role in helping solve the issue of packaging waste with its three-pillar approach, through developing new packaging, shaping a waste free future and third driving new behavior.
To counter the menace of pollution caused by plastic waste, combined efforts by different stakeholders focusing on setting up well-operated waste management systems with proper collection and recovery are required, with public awareness and participation a crucial key to successful waste management.