Plastic Pollution

Plastic Pollution

HOT ISSUES FOR MAINS(TOPIC #2)(SecureIas Initiative)

  • World environment day theme “beat the plastic” was held in 2018 in India
  • Plastics are polymers made artificially from petrochemicals and contains toxic elements.As we use plastic and throw them,these toxic elements seep out and as a result they enter our body through the process of food chain.These are non-degradable as nature hasn’t yet learned to degrade these newly formed ‘unnatural’ materials.
  • The extraordinary qualities of plastic like durability to air and water , can be molded to any form, cheap, polymerized ,easily available, etc are also its drawbacks as these makes it prone to more,non biodegradable etc
  • Micro plastics (< 5mm in dia) = food chain entry + not filtered into current water treatment systems +block sunlight entry + micro plastics in salt(human consumption and cant be avoided)
  • About 25000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated in India out of which only 60% is recycled
  • In 2015, scientists said that “of the nearly 7 billion tons of plastic waste generated, only 9% was recycled, 12% incinerated, and 79% accumulated in landfills or the environment”.
  • About 50% of our plastic use is single use (disposable) and it constitutes 10% of the total waste generated.
  • According to a report,by 2050 Oceans will contain more plastic than fish(by weight)
  • Every year 8 million tonnes of plastic reaches to the ocean
  • Plastic is cancerous,toxic ,reduces productivity and vitality of environment
  • Harmful to animals eating much as 7-8 kg of plastic in stomach of a cow ——painful deaths
  • Health hazards = cancer,lung problems like chronic and eye problems,toxins added if eaten in plastic containers
  • Plastic < 50um —small factories — loss of employment —-wiping them out is not a solution
  • How to deal? = Awareness(school curriculum + Mass movement) + Behavioral changes and household waste segregation are the keys + Recycling of plastic(also 3 Rs (reduce,reuse,recycle)) + smart collection of plastic with bottom to top approach(registering manufacturers to collect plastic waste) + one should start with oneself by bringing small-small behavioral changes like carrying bag to the market,avoiding plastic utensils at parties,wooden toys to kids,use of cotton clothes instead of synthetic clothes,use of glass bottles instead of plastic bottles etc + ‘No to plastic’ campaign + effective decomposition by using plastic in road construction,generate electricity etc + Global convention on eliminating plastic + ban on single use plastics(i.e, one use and throw) + ban on multi layer plastic worldwide which is more harmful + scrutinize packaging of products as involves more plastic +  Charges for plastic bag use and deposit-refund for plastic bottles may be effective options + Efforts in research to deal with plastics and alternatives + new plastics made up of organic substance has been made in which recycling is possible(however need to be made cost effective through Govt interventions and providing economy of scale) + promote ‘zero effect – zero defect khadi product’(linked to India’s freedom and most Eco friendly product) + awareness and warnings on plastic products by manufacturers with guidelines to disposing it off
  • In Germany consumers get a small refund by returning plastic bottles(more than 98% of plastic bottles are returned)
  • Plastic has intruded deeply into our lives in various forms and hence its instant elimination is not practically possible but we should strive in making use of plastic as last resort and eliminate it in long run
  • In pacific,large plastic island is found

Centre’s Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, 2016

  • According to the Centre’s Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, 2016, all States have to annually apprise the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the steps taken to reign in plastic use, whether a ban is in force, and the strength and performance of a recycler and waste-processing network
  • The most significant aspect of the Rules is that they strengthen the concept of ‘extended producers responsibility’ whereby plastics manufacturers and retail establishments that use plastic are legally bound to introduce a system of collecting back plastic waste. As an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic does not exist yet, and plastic is too ubiquitous and useful, the country has to move towards a regime where plastic waste is treated and recycled rather than engage in rhetoric about banning the product. The Rules lay down the procedure to do that.
  • The Rules envisage promoting the use of plastic waste for road construction, or energy recovery, or waste to oil, etc., and think up ways of gainfully utilising waste and addressing waste disposal.
  • The Rules also mandate an increase in the thickness of carry bags and plastic sheets from 40 to 50 micron. This would likely increase the cost of plastic bags and restrict vendors from giving away bags for free, thereby reducing waste.
  • Local bodies and gram panchayats are responsible for implementing and coordinating a waste management system.
  • Retailers or street vendors who sell or provide commodities in plastic carry bags, or multilayered packaging, or plastic sheets or covers made of plastic sheets which are not manufactured, labelled or marked in accordance with these Rules will be fined
  • The centralised registration system will be evolved by the Central Pollution Control Board for the registration of the producer/importer/brand owner.

By: Sugam Bansal

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