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COURSE TOPIC THE HINDU EDITORIALTIMES 21 JUNE - 2018
TITLE BEATING PLASTIC POLLUTION
HEADLINE The focus must be on waste management and recycling
BEATING PLASTIC POLLUTION We celebrated 'World Environment Day'June 5) with a critical theme: beat plastic pollution. Since India was the global host of this year's event, and also one of the victims of plastic pollution, we should view this danger seriously. The theme urges governments, industries, communities and individuals to come together and explore sustainable alternatives. It also urges this target group to reduce the production and excessive use of single-use plastics, which are polluting our environment and threatening human health.
BEATING PLASTIC POLLUTION Plastics are organic polymers of high molecular mass and often contain other substances They are usually synthetic, mainly derived from petrochemicals. Due to their low cost, ease of manufacture, versatility, non-corrosiveness and imperviousness to water, plastics are used for multiple purposes at different scales. Plastic was invented in New York in 1907 by Leo Baekeland Further, many chemists, including Nobel laureate Hermann Staudinger (father of polymer chemistry) and Herman Mark (father of polymer physics), have contributed to the materials science of plastics. However, these scientists could not have anticipated such an exponential growth of plastic production
BEATING PLASTIC POLLUTION Critical Impact Plastic has become an indispensable material in modern society.Worldwide, one million plastic bags and one million plastic bottles are used every minute. About 50% of our plastic use is single use (disposable) and it constitutes 10% of the total waste generated. More than 9.1 billion tons of plastic are said to have been "manufactured since the material was initially mass-produced in the 1950s". 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" In India, which accounts for almost 18% of the world population in 2.4% of the global land area, the accumulation of plastic waste is huge.
BEATING PLASTIC POLLUTION Plastic disposed of on land degrades slowly and its chemicals leach into the surroundings. Drinking water samples analysed from 14 countries including India, revealed that 83% have micro-plastics concentrations. According to a United Nations Environment Programme report, the overall annual natural capital cost of plastic use in the consumer goods sector is $75 billion. 2 9
ull BEATING PLASTIC POLLUTION What Should We Do? In reality, we cannot eliminate plastic use from our day-to-day activities. However, we should not allow plastic to reach the soil or water. The government should restrict plastic production and encourage recycling through appropriate policies. The Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016' need to be strictly followed. As most plastic items pass through our hands, public care, with behavioural change, is necessary. Household-wise waste segregation is the key. We should act as responsible citizens with a determination towards maintaining cleaner surroundings.
BEATING PLASTIC POLLUTION Eco-friendly substitutes (cloth/paperljute bags, leaves/areca leaf plates, paper straws) should be developed. For this, scientific and financial support (soft loans and subsidies) is required. Charges for plastic bag use and deposit-refund for plastic bottles may be effective options. The recent decision by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on extending the mandate on packing food grains and sugar products in jute bags is welcome. Even if the intention is to promote the jute industry, it is a step that reduces plastic pollution.The Swachh Bharat Mission should emerge as a platform for plastic waste management.
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