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Why curbing plastic use is need of the hour?


New Delhi, Aug 26: Curbing the alarming rise in plastic pollution is need of the hour. Plastic has invaded our lives to such an extent that it is now directly impacting human health.

The production of plastic has outpaced almost every other material in the last 3-4 decades. The ever increasing use of plastics, is posing a serious threat to marine life and the environment.

Plastic is a menace mainly because it takes hundreds of years for plastic to decompose. To the keep the environment clean, the only way is to recycle plastic waste. With almost every other object we use daily lives made of plastics, it is next to impossible to totally do away with its use, but what we can do is to reduce its use.

Humans eat and breathe in tens of thousands of microplastic particles every year, according to a new study which has raised fresh questions over how plastic waste could directly impact our health.

The study found that an adult male could expect to ingest up to 52,000 microplastic particles each year. Taking into account the pollution we breathe in, that figure rose to 121,000 particles -- equivalent to over 320 particles every day.

[This city in UP is more polluted than Gurugram!]

India's first attempt at tackling the menace of plastic waste came in 2011 when the government notified the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011. The policy sought to disincentivise the use of poly bags by setting up a pricing mechanism for them and also to establish rules for recycling by local authorities.

Not only humans, plastic poses threat to even animals

Not only humans, plastic poses threat to even animals

The Rules were replaced with a stronger Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. The new rules gave emphasis on a complete ban on plastics below 50 microns, phasing out use of multi-layered packaging and introducing extended producer responsibility (EPR) for producers, importers and brand owners to ensure environmentally sound management of plastic products until the end of their lives.

A rickshaw puller carrying empty plastic bottles to a recycling centre

A rickshaw puller carrying empty plastic bottles to a recycling centre

In 2018, the Environment Ministry in a new notification amended the rules of plastic waste management, and suggested the phasing-out of multi-layered plastics (MLP), the shiny plastic material which is used to package chips, biscuit and ready-to-eat food products. MLPs are non-recyclable, non-energy recoverable, and have no alternative uses, and are hence a critical threat to the ecosystem.

A view of used plastic tumblers seen strewn around Ramlila Maidan

A view of used plastic tumblers seen strewn around Ramlila Maidan

About 1 million plastic bags are used every minute, and a single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade.

Bottled water produces 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year, and these bottles require 47 millions gallons of oil to produce, according to Food & Water Watch.

    PM Modi urges Indians to boycott single use plastic
    Beaches littered with plastic

    Beaches littered with plastic

    In his 'Mann ki Baat address yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for launching a "mass movement" to tackle plastic pollution in the country. He pitched a movement against single-use plastic from October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's clarion call to eliminate single-use plastic, the Indian Railways has decided to ban the usage of plastics below 50 microns, in its premises and trains, effective from October 2.

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