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by Dwmpl_Web_Hostinger24

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Categories: Blog

by Dwmpl_Web_Hostinger24

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Plastic Waste Pollution

From its discovery in 1907, plastic has played a vital role in our lives and still makes its presence felt today. A so-called miracle product of the twentieth century, this unit is slowly throttling our environment and polluting our mountain ranges and oceans. No one knows when exactly the plastic decomposes; it may take 450 years or more. Because of its low cost, its production is high, and people overlook its dangers & toxic properties. According to statistics, we recycle less than one-fifth of plastic globally, leaving more than 80 percent of production to find its way into landfills or oceans. Plastics are exterminating mammals through direct entanglement, ingestion, or infiltrating the food chain. It is also killing plant life and, by extension, us. More than 100,000 sea creatures die a year from exposure to plastic. Thousands of whales, birds, seals, and turtles are killed each year due to the disposal of plastic bags in the marine environment, as they often mistake plastic bags for food. Researchers have found that 95 percent of plastics enter the oceans by flowing in the major rivers, eight of which are present in Asia. The dilemma as to why a complete ban on plastics has failed is because the entity often provides functionality that is economically not easily replaceable.

The Major concerns

Plastic is durable, easy to produce, lightweight, unbreakable, odorless, and chemically resistant. Its low manufacturing cost and durability are the two main factors that favor rapid growth. Asia is the largest plastic producer accounting for half of the world’s production. Global plastic production in 2010 was approximately 275 million tons, of which people dumped 220 million tons in landfills or oceans. The use of plastics has increased over the years. They have become paramount to the country’s municipal solid waste. India generates 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste a day, contributing to more than 10 percent of plastic production. Clearly, the problem lies not in its widespread production but our mismanagement as consumers, ineffective recycling policies, and a lack of producer responsibility. In addition, the pace of innovation and upgrading of waste management infrastructure is not equal to the rapidly increasing level of plastic waste. Plastics, with the help of an informal array of waste pickers, junkyards, scrap dealers, plastic bottles, jars, containers, etc., find their way into the reuse and recycling economy. Although companies have made a concerted effort to increase the recyclability of rigid plastic packaging, there are other single-use plastics. These include bags, candy wrappers, tobacco pouches, soap wrappers, and shampoo pouches that are too hard or not attractive enough to collect. Another example is the increasing packaging waste with the introduction of the e-commerce industry, which is evident in nearly 40 percent of the entire production that is for packaging. The consumer base of the e-commerce industry is growing. It is cheap, convenient, a time-saver, etc. Any item ordered online comes packaged in a plastic bag, adding to the growing plastic waste.

Various Nations Approach Plastic Pollution, the Current and Future Plans

Over the past few years, initiatives on a global scale to reduce or eliminate the consumption of single-use plastics have been gaining momentum. China, Asia’s largest producer of plastics, has banned all thin plastic bags and started taxing thicker bags from retailers. The Chinese government has said that there has been a 66 percent decline in plastic bags usage. Realizing the gravity of the situation, the Government of India celebrated World Environment Day 2018 in its true essence through a series of activities and events aimed at substantial public interest and participation. The pledge included turning 100 monuments across the country into plastic- and litter-free zones. Even the tourism ministry rose to the occasion by pledging to avoid plastic straws in public places. As a rapidly growing economy and with a population of 1.3 billion, India is a significant contributor to marine plastics. It is also struggling to manage its waste streams. Ban on plastic cannot succeed unless everyone is determined and willing to give up using plastic. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has launched a mission to eliminate single-use plastic in the country by 2022, and every individual must bring about a positive change in the environment. Due attention is now given to the urgency to reduce plastics. The nation and the top-tier organizations are cracking deals to reduce plastic pollution by 2025. Coca-Cola announced its sustainable strategy to increase the recycled content in their bottles from 25 percent to 50 percent by 2020. Similarly, PepsiCo, Amcor, and Unilever have pledged to switch to 100 percent reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging by 2025. Shifting consumers from conventional plastics to recycled plastics is further accelerating the growth of the plastic waste management market. Professor Rajagopalan Vasudevan, Professor of Chemistry at Tyagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai, also known as the ‘Plastic Man’ of India, has created a stone block with a plastic coating called a ‘plastone’. Each Plastone block contains 300 plastic carry bags and approximately six PET bottles. One of the most crucial advantages of plastone is its non-porous nature and ability to prevent water ingress and hence, its use in road construction. Banning plastic is not the only solution. This step will affect the lives of many, especially those in the lower-income group. Retailers have started replacing plastic bags with bioplastics or jute/fabric/paper bags. It can play a primary role in bringing about a change in our daily lives. Other options are paper packaging, cardboard packaging, bamboo cutlery, etc., which should be well researched and implemented.

A Collective Effort

As well as focusing on eliminating plastic, we should also be concerned about its mishandling and ways to mainstream recycling and reuse. Authorities across the globe should launch mass awareness and cleanliness campaigns to map the progress. The government and the people are adopting biodegradable plastic and the ‘zero-waste’ philosophy. Because of this, the plastic recycling industry is likely to boom in the coming years. This revolution will also enable more sustainable ways of conserving raw materials, reducing landfill problems, and consuming less energy in the manufacture of plastics. With the help of various eco-friendly alternatives, items like bamboo toothbrushes, edible cutlery, biodegradable bags, biodegradable sanitary napkins, wheat straw, and others can bring about a change leading to a plastic-free lifestyle. The best way to deal with the problem of waste is to devise a viable plan with an effective extended producer responsibility policy and buy-back strategies. This reverse-cycle, once established, will be a huge success. Nothing can change without collective efforts and reforms at the grassroots level. Such measures, however small, will contribute to reducing plastic pollution and will go a long way in saving our mother earth.

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