Resolute measures can save the planet from the harm of plastics

Source: This post is created based on the article “Resolute measures can save the planet from the harm of plastics”, published in Live Mint on 5th June 2023.

Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 3, Environmental pollution

News: On World Environment Day, 2018, India’s Prime Minister made a historic announcement to make India single-use plastic-free by 2022. Despite the ban on 21 items of single-use plastic last year, the implementation has been ineffective in most parts of the country.

What are some of the facts related to plastic pollution?

The world produces 400 million tonnes of plastic every year.

About 75% of all plastic ever produced has become waste.

Around the world, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, and up to five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. Half of all plastic produced is designed for single-use purposes.

Studies suggest that there will be more plastics than fish in the ocean by 2050.

Most plastic items never fully disappear; they just break down into smaller and smaller pieces. These microplastics can enter the human body and accumulate in organs.

What are the concerns associated with plastic pollution?

The presence of microplastics has been detected in human organs, and in the placentas of new-born babies. Plastic-associated chemicals, such as methyl mercury, plasticisers, and flame retardants, can enter the body and are linked to health concerns.

The greenhouse gas emission from production, use and disposal of conventional fossil fuel-based plastics is estimated to grow to 19% of the global carbon budget by 2040.

Plastic pollution also results into clogging of drains contributing to urban floods, aesthetic deterioration, landfill leachates, and damage to coral reefs.

What should be done?

Refusing all single-use plastics and ensuring the extended producer’s responsibility. Full ban on single use plastic should be implemented.

Encouraging local clean-up drives.

Norms and standards must be put in place by governments, cities, towns, businesses, and the finance sector to eliminate unnecessary plastics.

Transitioning from a linear plastics economy to a circular one.

Adopting a low resource-intensive lifestyle and prioritizing the concepts of refuse and reduce over reuse, recycle, and repair is crucial.

Over 100 countries have adopted legislation on plastic bags, and many have introduced rules on single-use plastics more generally. However, these legislations cannot be successful without participation of citizens.

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