PLASTIC POLLUTION GD Topic
You all might already be aware of plastic pollution. But just knowing about is not enough, we should even understand it. So today, let’s take a step together towards it and understand plastic pollution in detail.
Who made the first plastic?
Leo Hendrik Baekeland, a Belgian-born American living in New York state, made plastic based on a synthetic polymer which was made from phenol and formaldehyde, with the first viable and cheap synthesis methods invented in 1907.
What is Plastic Pollution?
Plastic Pollution is the buildup of plastic items such as empty bottles, carry bags, wrappers, etc. On earth, which is having a terrible effect on marine life, wildlife as well as on humans.
Polyethene-made items are made for one-time use only, once used they are being thrown away. These polyethene bags take almost 500 – 1000 years to get degraded. Because they are insoluble and non-degradable in nature it provides them with the immunity to remain in the environment.
Currently, plastic pollution is one of the most severe global problems. Billions of plastic bags are thrown every year across the world. These plastic bags make their way by flowing through the drains into the rivers and oceans.
This matter is of major attention as at present 1500 million tonnes of plastic has been collected on the entire planet, which is damaging the atmosphere drastically. Also, plastic recycling is not that much reliable because recycling the plastics will spread more pollution.
Due to plastic pollution, millions of animals and birds are killed at the global level, which is a disturbing sign given by nature.
“Be a part of the solution not part of the pollution” – the fresh quotes
“Do something drastic, cut the plastic!” – ishika2004
We are being choked to death by the amount of plastic that we throw away. It’s killing our oceans. It’s entering into our bodies in the fish we eat. – Kevin Bacon
STATISTICS – What Numbers have to Say?
- From its beginning in 1950, the world’s population of 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tons of plastic.
- In 2016, a global population of more than 7 billion people produced over 320 million tons of plastic. This is set to double by 2034.
- In the last 70 years, 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced.
- Of the 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic produced, 6.3 billion tonnes have been discarded.
- Every year, nearly 13 million tonnes of plastic waste is added to oceans.
- Nearly 50 % of plastics used are single-use products such as bottles, plastic bags, packaging, straws, stirrers, spoons and forks.
- Around the world, 1 million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute.
- Every year we use up to 5 trillion disposable plastic bags.
- In India, 80 per cent of total plastic consumption is thrown as waste and according to official statistics, the country generates 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste daily.
- According to a 2017 knowledge paper by FICCI, a business and industry lobby, Indian plastic processing industry saw compounded annual growth rate of 10% between 2010 and 2015. Annual plastic consumption is expected to increase from 12 million tonnes to 20 million tonnes by 2020.
- Recent studies have revealed marine plastic pollution in 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabird species examined.
- 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually.
- Scientists have recently discovered microplastics embedded deep in the Arctic ice.
DESCRIPTION – Let’s take a Deep Dive
Plastic Pollution Causes
- Plastic bags are a great option for those expensive bags that a middle class or poor person cannot afford. But with this privilege, it comes with a whole lot of menaces that people aren’t aware of.
- Plastic is something which is being used right from the kitchen, washrooms, drawing room to the bedroom. Even if we need to buy say milk, oil, curd, or even vegetable everything is packed in polyethene.
- Due to huge customers demand a huge number of bags was being kept by the vendors. Where once cloth, jute, paper bags were used was now replaced by plastic in huge numbers.
- Even when hot food is packed in a plastic a chemical reaction begins which can lead us to cancer.
- Be it drinking hot water in a plastic bottle to packing food in it once packed can harm any human being.
- If we see, still there is no proper awareness in people regarding plastic pollution and its ill-effects.
- Even after banning plastic, no alternatives were promoted.
Plastic Pollution Effects
- The major part of plastic waste is getting mixed in the oceans, which is creating severe problems for marine life. These ocean creatures are dying from eating plastic waste.
- Fishes are eating small plastic particles and when we eat these ocean fishes, we are unknowingly eating plastic.
- Plastic is not just affecting water in the ocean, but also lands and groundwater. Plants are absorbing this water, which contains minute particles of plastics and while we are eating them indirectly we are eating plastic.
- The major chunk of animals is dying from eating plastics Nowadays, everything such as food is wrapped in plastic. When these products get exposed to heat, it releases Harmful chemicals such as BPA (bisphenol-a) into food.
- When hot water is being filled with plastic bottles due to the heat a chemical reaction starts. This causes severe health problems when consumed.
- Polyvinyl chloride & polycarbonates that are present in plastic waste causes skin diseases, cancers etc.
- Despite the fact that the government launched a plastic ban, raised the value of them still they are so cheap that people are ready to buy them.
- Example: Plastic waste is preventing rainwater from seeping into the ground. These products clog the drain as well. Bangladesh witnessed worse floods due to plastic waste and hence imposed ban on plastic.
Steps taken by Government
- Every state in India has its way and take on plastic ban.
- Mumbai is one of the major plastic pollution creators, where recently the production and single-use plastics was banned. Single-use plastic is banned in 18 states of India.
- Plastics have different micron level, and thinner the plastic significant is the danger therefore, plastic covers below 50 microns was also banned by the government.
- Even after banning plastics, no alternative was emphasized by them. Therefore, Plastic being cheap people are ready to buy them.
- More than 50 nations – from the Galapagos Islands to India and from Rwanda to China – are taking action to reduce plastic pollution.
- In 2008, the nation, Rwanda of 12 million populations instituted a national ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags. It prohibits the manufacture, use, importation and sale of the bags. It even has severe punishments for the people who use plastics. People are put into prison, fined etc.
Example: Plastic ban in Sikkim is very effective.
Reason: The ban started on June 4 1998. The legislation states, “You shall not deliver any goods or materials purchased or otherwise to any person, firm, shop, company or any other agency or organisation in plastic wrappers or plastic bags.” Initially, in big towns, continuous checks took place and strict fines of up to ₹20.000 were imposed on offenders and this created a level of fear, making the ban effective.
Nature is the most valuable gift given to everyone on earth and it is on us how we maintain it from our side. It is the duty of each and every sole present on this earth to save nature. Nowadays, when plastic pollution has already reached a major point, people all over the world should come forward to stop the pollution caused by polythene. We should take a step together so that this menace should not be faced by our next generation.
And for that Just by banning plastic nothing much will happen. With the ban, alternatives should be promoted. Public awareness should be increased on a large scale. The alternatives must get cheaper so that people get ready to shift from plastic to another form of bags.
It’s us who must take a step towards the change so that the plastics can be completely be removed from our system. Nothing happens overnight, it may take some time, but will surely work. Nature is ours, and it should be our pledge to take care of it.
Author – Tanvi Jadhav
GD/WAT Topics for MBA Admissions