essay on plastic pollution upsc, causes of plastic pollution, plastic waste management in india essay, plastic pollution in india
With the advancement of modern equipment and technology, an unbidden issue of pollution is alarming all over the world. Pollution means contaminating land, water, and air in the environment. Land can become polluted by household garbage and industrial wastes. Chemicals and dangerous foreign substances are polluting water bodies. Air pollution means contaminating the air by the rise of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (Co2), Sulphur dioxide (So2) warming the planet. The dangerous consequences of pollution are acid rain, smog, deforestation, heart, and genetic diseases.
Pollution is adversely affecting the ecosystem on which we humans rely. It introduces various forms of waste material that negatively affects the environment. Plastics are one of those non-biodegradable waste materials, which arises the problem of plastic pollution.
What is Plastic Pollution?
Plastic pollution is explained as – the accumulation of plastic objects and particles (e.g., plastic bottles, bags, electronic waste, and microbeads) in the Earth’s environment that are desperately harming the marine life, wildlife habitat, and human being. Plastics can be molded into any desired shape and become the essential thing in modern life. They have become an integral part of our life, and it is used excessively in all places like schools, colleges, houses, offices, hospitals, etc.
Based on the sizes, plastics are categorized into micro, meso, or macro debris. Microplastics are used in cosmetic products and cleansing ingredients such as toothpaste, face-wash, etc. However, the chemical composition of most plastics renders them resistant to degradation. It (Plastic) remains in the environment for thousands of years and causes air, water, and soil pollution. The problem arose when a million tonnes of plastic got aggregated to almost every corner of the planet – from the highest mountain to the deepest sea.
Impact of Plastic Pollution
Plastic is mainly of two types – biodegradable and non-biodegradable. Biodegradable plastics are biopolymers that degrade in industrial composters, but non-biodegradable plastic is a toxic pollutant at every stage of its life cycle, from manufacture to use and disposal. Plastics are versatile and readily available at low cost, and as a result, levels of plastic production by humans are high. As in 2018, around 380 million tons of plastics are produced every year.
Recycling of plastic is a process of recovering scrap materials and reprocessing into useful products. Recycling is a global effort to reduce the harmful consequences of plastic. From year 1950s to 2018, 6.3 billion plastic has been produced worldwide, out of which 9 percent has been recycled, another 12 percent have been incinerated. The rest proportion is either dumped or burnt into the environment, releases dangerous chemicals such as hydrochloric acid, sulphur dioxide, dioxins, and particulates, causing severe health threats and climate change.
Indiscriminate disposal of plastics leads to several environmental disorders like land infertility, death of marine or aquatic life, sewage system blockage, and resulting in creating a conducive environment for breeding mosquitoes and other diseases. It is affecting the whole Earth like a disease that has no cure. Let’s discuss how widely it is a curse for biotic components of Earth.
Plastic pollutes our land. It ruins the fertility of the soil and releases harmful chemicals that can seep into the groundwater. Plastics dumped into localities cause deadly health issues. The accumulated garbage attracts pests like mice, rats, insects, creating problems like malaria, dengue, plague, and cholera. Plastic is made of toxic materials like benzyl and vinyl hydrochloride, which contaminates air, causing asthma and other respiratory complications.
Furthermore, plastic also pollutes our water resources. About 1.1 to 8.8 million tonnes of plastic waste is dumped in the ocean from coastal communities every year. According to a world forum report, the count of plastics will be more than the number of fishes in the sea by the end of the year 2050.
Marine animals are severely affected by mechanical effects, due to entanglement in plastic objects or through exposure to chemicals. Thousands of sea turtle, fishes, and aquatic animals are killed each year after ingesting plastics. A year ago, a dolphin swallowed plastic bag stuck into her mouth, and she died of starvation. These innocent animals are dying due to human’s negligent behavior. Plastic bags and bottles are thrown recklessly, which leads to blockage of the sewer and drainage system, and during rain, it may cause difficult situations like floods.
Plastic pollution is affecting almost every species on Earth, directly or indirectly. So, there is a need to take adequate steps against it.
Measures to Control Plastic Pollution
Plastic pollution is one of the leading causes of the degradation of the environment in every possible way. Plastic has entered into the food chain and devastating land, water bodies, marine habitats, and human beings. To maintain the balance of the ecosystem, strict measures must be undertaken to minimize and later avoid plastics usage. In April 2019, ‘The Earth Day Network’ partnered with ‘Keep America Beautiful’ to inaugurate nationwide clean up a scheme in 50 US states and five union territories. After five days of talks with the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, a non-binding resolution was made over throwaway items like plastic bags.
Various countries have come up with an action to limit the use of plastic bags. So far, 18 state governments of India, such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh, have banned plastic. Cities like Nainital and Dehradun are using paper bags for a long time, but in many places, people are still carrying plastic bags. One hundred and seventy countries have pledged to reduce the use of plastics by 2030 significantly.
The environment is at its turning point. So, we need concrete commitments to limit the production and usage of plastics. Let’s discuss some necessary steps which have been taken to limit the harmful impact of plastic:
- Dzukou valley in Nagaland has been declared as ‘plastic-free zone’ on the World Environment Day this year, which is a new initiative that others must follow.
- Prof R Vasudevan’s innovation of recycling plastic waste for construction of road led a revolution. Plastic Road is a successful experiment as plastic waste increases the strength of way and is more resistant to rain. About one lakh kilometers of roads in India are being made from plastic bottles and bags.
- The Bangladesh government was the first to impose a ban on light-weighted plastic bags in the year 2002. Till now, 74 countries have banned plastics, and 37 countries instead impose high charges on the purchase of plastic bags.
- The government is already working towards beating plastic pollution all over the country, and India vowed to become a nation free from all kinds of plastics. In 2019, the Environment Ministry planned to make Ardh Kumbh Mela, which was inscribed as the intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in the year 2017, became the biggest plastic-free cultural congregation.
- Moreover, biodegradable plastics such as thermoset plastics (soy polyurethanes and unsaturated polyester resins) and thermoplastics (PLA, starch blends, PBS, PHA, and cellulose) are mainly used by packaging, crockery, and cutlery industries.
Many countries are accelerating the ‘plastic-free environment,’ and the days are not so far when these small initiatives will be a globally successful mission.
Plastic Pollution Essay Conclusion
Though plastic is very useful in modern civilization, if the problem of these easy carrying bags is overlooked, its long-term results will be disastrous. Many types of research on worldwide production of plastic have shown that plastic waste has constituted a major environmental issue. There is a need for public concern to salvage the ecosystem and ensure environmental and health safety. We should try our best to reuse, reduce, and recycle plastic products and also follow the guidelines issued by the United Nations. If we may cause a problem, we can also be the solution. So, we have to step out and help in every possible way to make our planet a better place for living of all species.
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