The greatest hindrance in controlling plastic pollution is the large-scale use of plastic in our daily lives.
Govind Singh, Associate Professor, Jindal School of Environment & Sustainability, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Saadat Hussain, student, Jindal School of Environment & Sustainability, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Plastic pollution is reaching epic proportions. Traces of plastic have been found in human blood, placenta and even in breast milk. Future generations are exposed to plastic pollution right from birth which is putting humanity at grave risk. Plastic is a synthetic polymer produced from petrochemicals and is non-biodegradable in nature.
Once produced, plastic items remain around us long after being discarded. Discarded plastic items often find their way into terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems where they affect wildlife. Polythene bags dumped in landfills are often ingested by animals who mistake it for food.
Discarded plastic breaks down into microplastics which are ingested by living organisms and accumulate and amplify in the food chain, all the way up to our platter. When ingested by animals, microplastics potentially impact the reproductive system and affect overall wellbeing.
We are only beginning to understand the full impact of microplastics on human health. What is increasingly becoming clear is that plastic pollution is a serious health hazard and must be brought under control. Of particular concern are disposable or single-use plastic items since they are produced in large quantities and are discarded as soon as they are used.
These include polythene bags, plastic glasses, potato wafer packets, sachets, straws and plastic bottles. The relative convenience of using plastic items has ensured their rapid spread and deeper penetration in society. According to the Central Pollution Control Board, total plastic waste generated in India in 2020-21 was 4,126,997 tonnes. This figure is more than double of what it was in 2016-17 (1,568,714 tonnes per annum).
Published in: The Statesman
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