International Plastic Bag Free Day: It's time for us to make the choice
New Delhi, July 03: Plastic has invaded our lives, from food packaging to life-saving medical innovations we use plastic products 24X7. The International Plastic Bag Free Day is observed on July 3 every year, to raise awareness about the grave issues of plastic pollution and its impact on humans, environment and marine life.
Worldwide, one to five trillion plastic bags are consumed annually. If tied together, five trillion single-use plastic bags would cover an area twice the size of France.
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.
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.
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.
The solution to India's problems would require vision, political will and the nerve to pull off a balancing act.
Opt for cotton bags About 1 million plastic bags are used every minute, and a single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. If you're already bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, you're on the right track, but if you're still using plastic produce bags, it's time to make a change. Purchase some reusable produce bags and help keep even more plastic out of the landfill.
Try and select items that come in non-plastic recycled and recyclable packaging, to do your best to properly handle items that can't be reused. Check everything before you put it in the trash, as more and more items are able to be recycled these days. Government Policies The government can play its role by banning the manufacture of such plastic bags and putting in place policies that promote a clean environment. Thick bags that do not tear easily are expensive and that will encourage people to reuse them. Companies can be compelled to adhere to certain standards failure to which there would be penalties.
Knowledge is power. A person is more likely to conserve the environment when he or she is made aware of the dangers of not doing so. Educating people about the effects of plastic pollution and ways in which it can be prevented or controlled is a step in the right direction because it raises awareness