India is the 15th biggest contributor of plastic pollution, globally, as India produces 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste on a daily basis. Nearly 40% of this enormous amount of waste is remains quite literally uncollected and this just remains in the open and harms the nature. The problem of plastic waste and pollution is not something new to India also, the history goes long back. Plastic in India can be found everywhere, in water bodies, on the banks and shores, stacked up outside a lane or on the highways, staked up inside the premises of a locality or apartment.
The ragpickers say that when they collect garbage, the only think that can be found in huge amount is, plastic. They collect the garbage and separate the plastic items so that they can be treated. According to Central Pollution Control Board of India (CPCB), out of the total amount of waste collected in a day in India 94% of it is thermoplastic, which means that they can be recycled. However, the issue lies with the fact that this thermoplastic can only be recycled for not more than seven times and after that it needs to be disposed. The issue with plastic is that its not biodegradable and therefore even after recycling thermoplastic for approximately seven times we cannot completely dispose it. Online sites like Amazon, Zomato, Swiggy etc. have also been under the radar of plastic pollution control as they contribute to plastic pollution majorly. The packaging used by food delivery apps like Zomato and Swiggy is solely made of plastic. In a blog in 2018, September, the CEO of Zomato revealed that the monthly plastic waste created by food delivery is nearly 22,000 tonnes. The industries also contribute to this pollution, they even use plastic for that matter, most of the packaging companies are the main consumers of plastic as they require it to make bottles, boxes, etc. A study by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry estimated that the plastic processing industry is estimated to reach 22 million tonnes by 2022 from 13.4 million tonnes in 2015.
There is an implied need to fight this. In India, Sikkim was the first state to ban the use of plastic in the year 1998 and a number of other states followed. On 6thSeptember 2019, India and Thailand joined a group of countries to mitigate plastic pollution. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, announced a ban on single-use plastic from 2ndOctober 2019, this was done to reduce the single-use of plastic in the country by 2022, to fight plastic pollution and its impact on the world’s marine life. Before this also there were states taking different measures to work on reducing the plastic pollution in India like, Kerala had implemented a ban on use of plastic in weddings and other functions; Maharashtra banned the use of plastic which includes plastic bags, cups, straws, plates, glasses, etc.; Delhi, initially banned the use of disposable plastic however, later it was changed to a ban on use of non-biodegradable plastic; other states include Sikkim and Jammu and Kashmir.
We as individuals need to learn and understand the harmful impact of plastic on our health and environment. We need to take up some responsibility and do our bit without having a sword of laws and fines on our heads. Some of the ways that can be incorporated in our daily lives to reduce plastic are as follows:
1. Avoid using disposables like straws, cups, plates etc.
2. Carry your own bamboo/ metal cutlery with you always.
3. Use of jute bags or other reusable bags instead of plastic bags.
4. Always carry a glass or steel bottle with you whenever you leave your house. This way you’ll not only save money but will also save the planet.
5. Once your plastic dinner sets, jars, bottles, etc. wear off replace them with glass, ceramic or steels ones.
6. Chewing gums are something that is commonly used by everyone of every age, certain gums have plastic and they should be avoided.
7. Instead of buying plastic loofa and scrubbers use the organic or stones ones.
These are just a few simple ways in which you can show your gratitude towards the mother earth and give a healthy and meaningful life.