BEAT THE PLASTIC POLLUTION

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Photo for representation only.

World Environment Day celebrated all over the world on June 5 of every year was started in 1972. India previously hosted the same in 2011 and will be the Global Host of this year’s WED on June 5 too with “Beat the Plastic Pollution” as the topic under consideration with worldwide efforts to discourage use of hazardous plastic. It is celebrated for rededication of national efforts for sustainable development to bring environmental concern into the mainstream of the national development efforts and also to bring people to the forefront of environment   conservation, considering it as a sustainable and environmental pollutant. In fact, it is the start of the end of plastic menace. We need to build momentum among all sectors to change our unsustainable production and consumption patterns too. Moreover, rapid urbanization and industrialization all over the world has resulted in large deposition of waste polymer material. Theme of this year’s Wed urges govt., industry, communities and individuals to break up with single-use plastic, which is polluting our oceans, damaging marine life and threatening human health and use latest technologies to tackle plastic pollution including micro plastics thereby reducing plastic pollution and better manage their plastic waste. It is huge environmental and health issue. The fact that the big plastic degrade into small plastics; it gets dissolved into ocean and these small particles are eaten up by fishes which are then consumed by human beings .It’s in the water we drink and food we eat .It has now become an Epedimic. Every year human settlements produce 1.3 bn tonnes worth of solid waste products; sufficient enough to encircle the Earth four times causing danger to mankind, sea birds and marine life.

Fundamental Problem Start with:-

Lack of responsibility from consumer goods companies for plastic pollution caused by their decisions, their products and their packaging.  Big consumer companies are selling products indiscriminatingly wrapped in plastics without a second thought as to what will happen to the package when these new customers are finished with the product.  And we see the result – Rivers of Plastic flowing to the ocean.

Plastic Pollution Facts:-

  • Every year the world uses 500 billion plastic bags.
  • Each year, at least 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans, the equivalent of a full garbage truck every minute.
  • In the last decade, we produced more plastic than in the whole last century.
  • 50% of the plastic that we use is single-use of disposables.
  • We buy one million bottles every minute.
  • Plastic makes up 10% of all the waste we generate.

Disadvantages of Plastic:-

  • Decomposition-insoluble in water for 300 years: takes 500 years to decompose, especially 1000 years for decomposition of Pet bottles.
  • Hard to use-most of the time it is meant for single-use.
  • Non=renewable-manufactured as by product of oil and natural gas material which otherwise can be used for heating houses and cooking foods.
  • Difficult top Recycle.
  • Not Biodegradeable- but Photodegradable, means it breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces, creating a plastic soup in the oceans.

So how do we solve it:-

Main focus is on two strategies:-

  • Cleaning the Oceans.
  • Preventing the pollution in the first place.   Lot is being done to clean the Oceans but these will do nothing if we don’t first stop the ongoing pollution at the source. The reality is that the only sound strategy is to stop the Plastic pollution is the one that prevent it in the first place.

Real sollutions to end Plastic Pollution:-

We need to work out the strategies to stem the tide of Plastic P-llution in both developed and developing world.

  • Ditch single-use plastic/ minimize the use.
  • Ban/substitute or innovate for eco friendly alternatives.
  • Recycling and composting   with a support system for zero waste.
  • Storm water management to capture plastics before they enter the environment.
  • Invest in solid waste management and recycling infrastructure.
  • Ban on Plastic beades widely used in cosmetics, soaps and toothpastes which because of their small size can dip through treatment plants pollute rivers, lakes and finally oceans.
  • Cook real food and say no to packaged food.
  • Alternative to one billion plastic bottles reaching the ocean each year has been tested by Skipping Rocks Lab. The capsules made from a sea weed extract which is actually cheaper than plastic is an alternative to Plastic Water Bottles one of the biggest water pollution menace and has already been tested in London.

I, being a Civil Engineer ought to bring before you the potential uses of recycled plastic as under.

  • Use of Plastic Grains from unsorted plastic waste substituting gravel  or sand for better bonding with Asphalt as Plasphalt for roads with better  durability and resistance to seepage.
  • Use of recycled plastic in Road construction increases the melting point of bitumen along with reduced seepage of water resulting in lesser road repairs.
  • Use of recycled Plastics as building material can help in reducing CO2 emission in manufacturing of cement thereby reducing the percentage of cement used.
  • Eco-Bricks from recycled plastic waste are viable alternative to conventional bricks with good specific strength ,being light weight  strong for the weight they bear, are earthquake resistant with short construction period; are low cost while contributing to environmental management.

Above all a new term “Garbology” has come into existence, to find new and exciting materials made out of stuff you did normally find as a landfill site. In future, we could end up re-using pretty much everything, as we did back when all waste was organic.

Legislations to be levied:-

  • Like CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility); our efforts towards GSR (Green Social Responsibility) should say that if each and every one of us does at least one green deed daily; there will be billion of Green Good Deeds daily which in turn can lead to invention of green alternative to replace Plastic Menace.
  • Under “Extended produces responsibility” levy on new plastics used by the Companies can be enforced for the creation of solid waste and recycling infrastructure in the developed as well as developing countries.

Our plea to get rid of plastic pollution should be “if you cant reuse it, refuse it”

With this I end up my paper.

SUNIL SETH

SSN