Every World Environment Day is organised around a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. The theme for this World Environment Day was “Beat Plastic Pollution.” In a message, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged all people to reject single-use plastic items, and warned that growing levels of plastic waste were becoming unmanageable, saying, “every year, more than eight million tons end up in the oceans.”
Plastic waste is choking our blue planet. Our oceans and ecosystems are turning into dumping grounds. Plastic packaging has been found floating with icebergs and in the deepest depths of the ocean. Where the ocean currents meet, there are huge floating islands of waste, plastic bags, cutlery, bottles, polythenes and other plastic filth.
According to Environment Ministry Report, India produces over 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste in a Day. Our obsession with plastic, coupled with overconsumption, the use-and-throw culture, and littering here and there is creating a hazardous environment for animals, marine life and human beings as well.
Swati Singh Sambyal of Centre for Science and Environment in a conversation to Hindustan Times said “The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, talk of extended producer responsibility, banning plastics less than 50 microns in size and phasing out multilayered plastics, but these are not happening on the ground. There has been no implementation of EPR as of now. Neither has there been any guideline that industries can follow. Almost 25 states and UTs have banned plastic, but we still see it everywhere. What can be done?” Thus, the states and UTs have failed to ensure the enforcement of plastic waste management rules.
Polybags, measuring less than 50 microns are banned in the national capital, and yet markets are overflowing with them. The idea of setting the limit of 50 microns for polybags seem to be hogwash because it is impossible for inspecting authorities to visit every shop and vendor with a machine to measure if the polythene bags are less than 50 microns. It is impractical, and hence the only way to stop the plastic menace is a blanket ban. Plastic of any form which is dangerous for the environment needs to be banned strictly and permanently from the market.
At the same time, we should pledge that we will stop using these polybags and will resort to better alternatives such as cloth bags or bags made up of natural, biodegradable fibres. Proper awareness in the communities is also required in this fight against ‘Plastic Waste’. This indeed is our social responsibility towards the earth and also the future generation for whom we must leave a healthy planet to live in.
Around 96% of the plastic waste generated in India is recyclable, according to the Central Pollution Control Board, but it’s rarely segregated at the household level. Across India, landfills become the final destination for household waste. “Ineffective and non-scientific management of waste is the root cause of why India struggles with huge piles of waste in landfills”.“Most landfills are non-scientific dump sites, posing grave threats to land and water resources”, says a report by the environment ministry.
The process of sorting waste in big cities such as Delhi often involves many stages and agencies, but a lack of awareness, proper segregation at source, proper infrastructure and lack of manpower hamper these adequate waste management programs.
Thus, it is high time that these challenges must be addressed by our concerned authorities and stringent actions must be taken to deal with this huge menace of ‘plastic waste’ so that we can help our planet breathe freely.
It is the time not just to realise the thought and meaning of the word ‘eco-friendly’ but to actually implement it in our daily lifestyle. The simplest way to define what being eco-friendly means is to say that it is an act of living with intent to save our environment.