There is no doubt we are living in a “plastic era”, but what exactly is single-use plastic. In simpler terms, it is known as disposable plastic, which is used only once. These include plastic drinking bottles, polythene bags, plastic bottle caps, plastic food wrappers, plastic sachets, straw, Styrofoam (thermocol) cups, or plastic utensils like plates, forks, spoons, etc.
We all know how hazardous plastic is, but what is not widely acknowledged, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), is that a single-use plastic/disposable plastic is like a slow poison. It slowly and eventually breaks down into micro pieces of plastic, namely microplastics.
India currently consumes approximately 14 million tons of plastic annually. The Centre is working towards putting a ban on single-use plastic nationwide and doing away with single-use plastic till 2022, but first, the environment ministry is close to announcing a clear definition of single-use plastic.
Nevertheless, various states have banned single-use plastic items, including plastic cutlery, plastic bags, etc. The ban on plastic means no one can use, manufacture or import plastic items. I will explain the details of India’s single-use plastic ban actions by the Centre later. Meanwhile, European Union plans to ban all single-use plastic items by 2021.
The answer to this question is because plastics entails hazardous consequences on our environment.
According to the NRDC organisation, single-use plastic is bad and the problem lies in the throwaway culture. Despite investing in durable products and authentic products that will last for life, we hoard plastics because it’s rather convenient and cheap. We produce 300 million tons of plastic each year worldwide; surprisingly, half of it is single-use plastic.
Single-use can be replaced by reusable cloth bags and bottles easily, reducing the footprint of single-use plastics. Most importantly, it is problematic to recycle single-use as well. One juggles to recycle small items like straws, bags, utensils, etc., because they fall into the cervices of the recycling machines and, henceforth, are rejected by the recycling centres.
Disposable plastic has not only put humanity in a dire situation but the whole ecosystem is affected by this substance.
A recent report by the Centre for International Environmental Law showed that plastic production contributes to the planet’s warming through greenhouse gas emissions.
Plastic never really breaks down, they break into microparticles (5millimeters long) that are very hard to detect but are present almost everywhere. Therefore, banning single-use plastic should be the utmost priority.
A factory in Noida faces a penalty for using banned single-use plastic. The Noida authority has commanded for the penalty against a factory that was found using banned single-use plastic to make glasses, in sector 63, reported The Hindustan Times. In addition, the authority has also commanded to shut down the factory as it is restricted to make single-use plastic in the city.
The clampdown against single-use plastic in India began on 11 September, 2019. The Centre and officials have appealed to the public to come forward and cooperate in helping the Centre impose the ban.
There is no doubt that plastic and single-use plastic, in general, is convenient, but it is hazardous. People are addicted to plastics as it is easy to carry, flexible, etc. But always remember plastic takes 1,000 years to decompose in landfills. Only cooperation and awareness will curb the use of single-use plastic globally.