Plastic Pollution in Ocean

Plastic pollution is the introduction of plastic products into the environment which then upset the existing ecosystems and cause environmental degradation. The theme for the World Environment Day 2018 was “Beat Plastic Pollution”.

Threat

1. Plastic Pollution is difficult to recycle. The discarded plastic continues to exist in landfills and oceans, slowly leaching into the entire eco system. Recycled plastics are not at par with virgin plastic and are instead transformed to a much lower quality.



2. According to a report, by 2050 oceans are expected to contain more plastics than fish and the entire plastics industry will consume 20% of total oil production, and 15% of the annual carbon budget.

Present Status

1. About 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated every year in India, of which only 60 per cent is recycled.

2. Humans have produced 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic since the 1950s.

3. The majority of the contamination comes from microfibres and single-use plastics.

4. Plastic pollution in marine ecosystems is causing health hazards and economic loss.

5. A large number of city drains are clogged by plastic bags which are leading to water logging and urban floods.

6. According to a 2014 report of UNEP, “the overall natural capital cost of plastic use in the consumer goods sector each year is $75 billion”.

7. Ganga is the world’s second biggest carrier of plastic waste

8. Delhi tops the chart of plastic waste followed by Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

9. Indian waste management Industry has a potential of $15 billion with promising growth prospects.

International Examples

1. The European Union proposed ban on single-use plastics.

2. U.S., Canada and the Netherlands have regulations to stop the use of micro beads in personal-care products.

3. Kenya has banned throwaway plastic bags.

4. Rwanda has done it too, making Kigali one of the world’s cleanest cities.

5. In Germany, consumers get a small refund when returning a plastic bottle.

Concerns

1. Production is much higher than the recycling efforts.

2. All micro plastics are not filtered out with current standard water treatment systems.

3. It is creating an environmental and climate change is affected.

4. Cattle and other animals unknowingly consume some of this plastic material which is not digested, end up with painful death.

5. Impacts tourism as beaches is victim of plastic pollution.

6. Pollutants also upset primary food production in water bodies by preventing the entry of sunlight into water.

Way Forward

1. Citizens must act as both responsible consumers and informed citizens.

2. Behavioral change is important.

3. Effective enforcement of existing rules and regulations is important.

4. We can provide the best Indian practices to the world and can bring best practices from the world to India.

5. More emphasis on circular economy.

6. Raising awareness

7. ‘Zero-effect, zero-defect’ khadi product is a major agent in humanity’s fight against plastic.

8. Producers can clearly label products and inform consumers how the waste should be disposed of.

9. Market interventions such as pricing of plastic bags would be helpful.

10. Investment in research and development for developing alternatives to plastics.

11. In Germany, consumers get a small refund when returning a plastic bottle. More than 98% of plastic bottles are returned. Similar initiative must be introduced in India at the local level.

12. Bioplastics are innovative solutions that could be part of a long-term solution.

13. National and local government as well as private sector, NGOs collective citizens is needed.

14. World Health Organization should introduce universal benchmarks for microplastic content in water, similar to those for lead.

15. UN and the governments must consider bringing conventions for beating plastic pollution.

16. It is our responsibility to ensure that our future generations live in a clean and green planet, in harmony with nature.


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