India

Need for awareness on plastic

Studies have shown that even small particles of plastic are present in bottled water.

Devendraraj Suthar

Studies have shown that even small particles of plastic are present in bottled water. Canadian scientists have found surprising results in an analysis on microplastic particles. The analysis revealed that an adult person swallows about fifty-two thousand microplastic particles annually with only water and food. If air pollution is also included in this, then every year about one lakh twenty one thousand microplastic particles are going into the body of an adult person through food, water and breath.

The central government wants to make India free from single-use plastic by next year. In this context, the Ministry of Environment has issued Plastic Waste Management Rules. It states that with effect from July 1, 2022, the production, import, storage, distribution, sale and use of single-use plastics with polystyrene (thermocol) and expanded polystyrene will be prohibited. Now the thickness of plastic bags has been increased from fifty microns to seventy five microns. These rules will be implemented in two phases from 30 September. Plastics with a thickness of forty micrometers or less are called single-use plastics. That is, they are thrown away after using them once. For example, vegetable packets, plastic tea cups, plastic plates with chaat-golgappa, water bottles, straws etc. are single-use plastics.
The concern of the Ministry of Environment is reasonable that environmental pollution due to single-use plastic has become a challenge in front of the whole world.

While plastic is proving to be very useful in our everyday life, it is harming our health and environment very fast. The problem of plastic pollution is getting worse day by day. There is also no system of disposal of plastic waste in India. The situation is that plastic waste is seen everywhere in India, from roads to drains, sewers and around houses. According to an estimate, India generates fifty six lakh tonnes of plastic waste every year. Sixty percent of plastic waste is dumped in the world’s oceans. According to Environment Science and Technology, the world’s ten rivers, which carry ninety percent of the plastic in the oceans, are the three major rivers of India, the Indus, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. The Central Pollution Control Board in its January 2015 assessment report said that Indian cities generate 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day.

Plastic does not dissolve in the environment like any other element or organic matter, but remains like that for hundreds of years. At the same time, the place where the plastic remains lying also makes the place poisonous with its chemicals. The soil in which this plastic goes makes it barren. If it enters the water, it not only makes the water poisonous, but also becomes a cause of death for the aquatic life. In the last fifty years, we have increased the use of plastics, no other thing has increased so rapidly. In 1960, five million tonnes of plastic was being made in the world, today it has increased to more than three hundred million tonnes. That is, about half a kilogram of plastic is being made every year for every person. About 104 million tonnes of plastic waste is found in the ocean every year. By 2050, there are estimated to be more pieces of plastic in the ocean than fish. Marine organisms are being badly affected by plastic debris. Turtles are dying of suffocation and whales are becoming victims of its poison.

Plastic entered India in the sixties. Today a strange controversy has arisen regarding this. Environmentalists say it is dangerous to the ecosystem, but its advocates claim it is environmentally friendly, as it is the best alternative to wood and paper. Indeed, plastic is dangerous to the environment and the entire ecosystem at all stages from its production to use. Apart from this, it is also an important fact that it is mostly produced in small scale industries where quality norms are not followed. It has been certified by scientists that the use of plastic items causes the possibility of cancer by ninety percent. WWF aims to end the use of only single-use plastic items such as straws and polythene bags by 2030. The largest amount of plastic waste is from single-use plastics.

Studies have shown that even small particles of plastic are present in bottled water. Canadian scientists have found surprising results in an analysis on microplastic particles. The analysis revealed that an adult person swallows about fifty-two thousand microplastic particles annually with only water and food. If air pollution is also included in this, then every year about one lakh twenty one thousand microplastic particles are going into the body of an adult person through food, water and breath. Only 20 percent of the total plastic produced every year is recycled.

Forty-nine per cent is destroyed by being buried underground and fifteen per cent is burnt. One million plastic bottles of drinking water are bought every minute around the world. The impact of bottled water on the ecosystem is fourteen hundred times and on water sources thirty five hundred times more. In the process of making bottled water, about 1.43 species are being lost from the earth every year and biodiversity is being harmed. It takes 1.6 liters of water for one liter of bottled water. Most of the water fed into it is processed groundwater, which is depleting aquifers.

A survey report on the business of bottled water in India shows that it is growing at the rate of about twenty one percent annually. The figures of 2019 are witness that this business of one hundred and sixty billion rupees is going to increase to four hundred and sixty billion by 2023. It is directly related to the environment. Bottled water is the main reason for the increase in plastic waste prevalent around the world. While the rich people of the country are becoming dependent on bottled water, the poor people are craving water drop by drop.

The amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the burning of plastics will triple by 2030, which is expected to lead to a rapid increase in the incidence of heart disease. Last year Italy became the first country in Europe to completely ban plastics that do not naturally degrade completely. The use of very thin plastic bags is banned in many countries including China, South Korea, Kenya, Uganda, Taiwan and Bangladesh.

It was observed that plastic bags clog drains and at times cause floods. Since seventy per cent of the total plastic waste in India occurs in urban areas, huge labor is needed to collect and divide the urban local bodies into reusable and non-reusable categories. We have to understand that we all have a moral responsibility to protect our common heritage like environment. Plastic cannot be stopped only by making laws and levying fines, but we need to bring public awareness about its harm. When the understanding will develop in the general public that a substance like plastic is the biggest factor from the death of wild animals to destroying the fertility of the land, then people will definitely be aware about it.

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Shivam Bangwal

Shivam Bangwal is a young entrepreneur who hails from Uttarakhand. Shivam is a professional full time Digital Marketing and PR expert with a post graduation degree of Master's of Computer Applications. He is a founder of Youthistaan, People News Chronicle, Branding Panther and Digital Leader.

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