Plastic has carved the world with safety, hygienic, comfort, and economical that leads to an increase in the production day by day, but the sad reality is that 1kg plastic uses 2kg petroleum. If this pace follows the fossil fuels will diminish in the future. Plastic leads us to not only to one problem but is the root of many. 380 million tonnes are produced around the world, of which India contributes 9.46 million tones of plastic annually.
Plastic waste to wealth
Alexander parkers introduced plastic in 1862 for the first time in London. Plastic is an organic polymer of high molecular mass made up of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic compounds that are malleable which can melt at a moderate temperature. It can be converted into desired objects easily.
• Polyethylene terephthalate
• High-density polyethylene
• Low-density polyethylene
• Polyvinyl chloride
• Polystyrene or Styrofoam
Usage of plastic
Plastic is being used everywhere in day to day life by every human being and has almost replaced degradable materials. Some of the broad areas of usage of plastic are
• Food packaging.
• Personal care products.
• Synthetic fabrics.
• Packaging of the materials in almost every Industry
• Parts of the equipment
• Furniture and construction materials
Issues related to the Plastic
It is not at all the problem we humans have created.
The purpose of plastic was good enough to support the problem of billiard balls, combs which were made of ivory and killed many elephants. If plastic were never invented till today, Elephants would have got extinct.
The positive side of the plastic
Plastic is very convenient to use and can be moulded to any shape and thickness at a moderate temperature. Some of the properties of the plastic which make its wide usages are as under.
• Long Life: it is durable and everlasting,
• Reusable: It can be reused several times.
• Lightweight: Plastic is more preferable to other materials being lightweight.
• It Consume barely any space as compared to others
• Decomposition of the plastic does not produce methane.
• Transportation is easy due to its properties.
• Plastic trash is manageable: If every individual is conscious about managing it.
• Energy savour: It uses the same energy as paper.
• Affordability: It is very affordable.
The negative side of the plastic
Indiscriminate use of plastic without any strategy to manage the plastic trash for recycling, reuse, or utilization for other productive purposes has to lead to devastation at every nook and corner of the world. Plastic menace is now unmanageable be it ocean or the landmass, due to lack of interest of the policymakers across the globe. Some of the aspects of plastic which needs to be tackled on an urgent basis are:
• Non-biodegradable. Plastic does not degrade naturally; it poses a great threat to nature and the environment though it is not a threat to the existence of humans at the movement if corrective steps are taken on an urgent basis.
• The natural source of plastic is non-renewable, as it is made mostly from petroleum.
• Plastic is a major pollutant across the Globe.
• A minuscule portion of the Plastic is recyclable.
• As plastic trash is thrown mindlessly after use, which has created devastation on the land and in the oceans for animals as they tend to eat it that cannot be digested and remain in the body.
• Plastic is highly combustible and thus is very dangerous if used carelessly.
• It is harmful to the children as it can cause choking/suffocation.
• When it burns, it produces CFC and CO2, which depletes the ozone layer.
• we are consuming plastic in our food cycle
Issue related to plastic is man-made and can be addressed by adopting a multi-pronged strategy to deal with it. Management of plastic is a practical and everlasting solution. Every person of the globe must be sensitive enough to contribute to the management of the plastic at home, community, society, public, and government level, in collection and utilization for productive use. Some human action is required to mitigate the negative effects of the
• Cleaning polluted environment which including oceans and other water bodies from plastic trash.
• Management of Collection and utilization of the plastic trash for the productive purpose (End to End process required from trash generating location to utilization center)
• Refuses the use of Plastic
• Reduce usage of the plastic
• Rethink the alternatives
• Reuse the already existing plastic
• Recycle the plastic for the same or different use
• Using alternatives for replacing plastic
Some of the alternatives for replacing plastic in various segments but these alternatives have their own limiting factors;
• Stainless steel
• Platinum silicone
• Natural fibre cloth
• Mushroom packaging
• Seaweed packaging
• Pressed hay
• Banana leaves
• Wood pulp
• Silber board
• Palm leaves
Glass, aluminium, cardboard, and other items still require resources to be created and are not always recycled. Creating more alternatives, still, pollute our habitat and cause starvation in the bird. We will still extract valuable resources from the earth, harm the ecosystem, and send perfectly reusable resources to landfills.
We must strike a balance between the usage of plastic and alternatives and find the methods to reduce the problems being faced by mankind due to negligence of the human’s beings in destroying nature.
Scientists have found alternative ways for reducing specific types of plastic from the environment
• Wax worms
• Meals worms
• Microbe; ideonilla sakailnsis
Solution for cleaning Ocean plastic
Especially design ships with the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques can be utilized for collection of the plastic from the sea which can solve the purpose of cleaning of the sea and utilizing collected plastic for recycling purpose.
Conversion of plastic waste into wealth
• Recycling of recyclable plastic
• Reuse plastic by converting into the Tiles
• Building roads
• Decorative materials.
• Generating electricity.
• Making furniture, shoes, etc.
• Using plastic as fuel.
By these methods, we not only reduce plastic but also conserve our environment and reduce the mining of non-renewable recourses, which take thousands of years to form again.
Action required from public
• Stop using plastic bags instead bring own reusable bags for shopping
• Stop buying plastic bottles, instead use a reusable bottle.
• Stop using a product that contains micro beads.
• Cooking food at home instead of buying from the market
• Segregation of plastic and kept in the collection centres
• Purchase in bulk
• Recycle items
• Support eco-friendly companies.
• Educate others about the harms of plastic.
• Cleaning neighbourhood Beaches, public places, and parks as a community initiative.
Action required by the government
• Banning plastic bags, micro beads, plastic straws
• Making industries take more leadership.
• set up incinerators in every city to burn plastic and convert it into electricity and other materials.[like Sweden, hardly any trash goes into landfills ]
• implement plastic tax [Ireland, is one such example when the tax was implemented it was so high that 94% reduction was seen]
Action required from manufacturers
• Exclude unnecessary single-use synthetic provide a sustainable option to your suppliers
• To create a circular economy.
• Cease manufacturing plastic straws, single-use plastic sachets.
• Make single-use plastic compostable.
• Creates seminars to aware of the people around.
• Support innovative people
• Manufacturers can rethink to make innovative containers that can be used more than once.
• Redesign the product before manufacturing.
The corporate sector is interested in earning profit only and is not at all interested in addressing social issues. It is the need of the hour to contribute in dealing with the plastic menace irrespective of whatever segment of the society we belong to; it is a collective responsibility to make earth liveable for the sustenance of the future generation. It creates a good image of a company and increases customers.
We are the beginning of extensive annihilation and cannot afford any more misleading. As a citizen of the globe, we have to choose now or never. We need a responsible government and active young people to help the government to enforce the law. India is a developing nation, needs a rapid move to become a developed country. It is not the only case of India but all country around the globe need to act immediately, it is a critical issue or we an emergency. It is only possible if we come together and create awareness among people of how to use alternatives productively. It is not possible in one day but one day it will be.
“ It is the worst of times, but it is the best of times because we still have a chance.”
– Sylvia Earle