Pallikaranai dump yardAccording to studies by the Plastic Development Council under the department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, India will emerge as the third biggest consumer of plastics in the world by this year end.
Every year, around 500 billion (500,000,000,000) plastic bags are used worldwide. So many that over one million bags are being used every minute and they're damaging our environment. India's plastics consumption is one of the highest in the world. Yet, precious little has been done to recycle, re-use and dispose of plastic waste. Plastic bags are difficult and costly to recycle and most end up on landfill sites where they take around 300 years to photo degrade. They break down into tiny toxic particles that contaminate the soil and waterways and enter the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them. But the problems surrounding waste plastic bags starts long before they photo degrade.
Our planet is becoming increasingly contaminated by Plastic pollution and by our unnecessary use of plastic carry bags. Big black bin liners, plastic carrier bags carrying advertising logos, clear sandwich bags, vegetable bags and a variety of other forms used to carry our daily food items and other items are all polluting our environment. Just take a look around you. Plastic bags can be seen hanging from the branches of trees, flying in the air on windy days, settled amongst bushes and floating on rivers. They clog up gutters and drains causing water and sewage to overflow and become the breeding grounds of germs and bacteria that cause diseases.
Animals and sea creatures are hurt and killed every day by discarded plastic bags - a dead turtle with a plastic bag hanging from its mouth isn't a pleasant sight but mistaking plastic bags for food is commonplace amongst marine animals. Plastic clogs their intestines and leads to slow starvation. Others become entangled in plastic bags and drown. Because plastic bags take hundreds of years to break down, every year our seas become 'home' to more and more bags that find their way there through our sewers and waterways. Given India's poor garbage collection facilities, tons of plastic bags litter the roads, preventing rainwater from seeping into the ground. Hundreds of cows die in New Delhi alone every year when they choke on plastic bags while trying to eat vegetable waste stuffed in the garbage.
Every bag that's washed down a drain during rainfall ends up in the sea every bag that's flushed down a toilet (many mall bags are), ends up in the sea - every bag that’s blown into a river will most likely end up in the sea. Besides choking drains, plastics are highly toxics. When burned they release cancer-causing gases. Lying in the garbage, polythene bags also find their way in gut of cattle, asphyxiating the animals. The cheap bags contain chemicals such as cadmium- or lead- based chemicals that are harmful to health. They leach into vegetables, meat and food.
An estimated 15 lakh computers and 30 lakh mobile phones are disposed of every year in India. “Computers, mobiles and other electronic items generate hazardous e-waste like lead, brominated flame retardants and chromium which can cause cancer,” There is another problem: India has more to deal with than just the waste generated at home. The Environment Protection Authority of Britain recently said 23,000 tonnes of e-waste was dumped in India, China and Pakistan.
Plastic really is fantastic. The problem is improper disposal. Remember that a careless moment may last
Recently in Chennai the vertenary doctors examine the cows stomach and take 10 kgs of plastics
Several Indian states banned plastic use
Several countries have already banned their use and more will doubtless follow. Several Indian states such as Maharastra, Dehli, Punjab, Rajasthan, Himanchal Pradesh, Goa , West Bengal etc. banned their use. Mumbai's storm water drainage choking with accumulated plastics waste, making the floods unmanageable, is an old story. The Environment Ministry has banned manufacture and use of plastics carry bags less than 8 inches X 12 inches in size 20 micron in width. The ministry has also asked State Governments to register all plastics manufacturing unit, so that these can be regulated.
Various States have increased the minimum thickness of plastic carry bags to even higher limits of 40, 50, or 70 microns. These States/ UTs are: Goa (40 micron), Himachal Pradesh ( 70 micron; HP Cabinet decided to ban plastics in the entire State with effect from 15.08.2009), Maharashtra (50 micron), Meghalaya ( 40 micron), Punjab (30 micron), Chandigarh (30 micron), West Bengal (40 micron ), Kerala (30 micron).
(a) The Government of Delhi issued a notification dated 21st November 2008 titled “ the Delhi Degradable Plastic Bag ( Manufacturing, Sale and Usage )and Garbage (Control) (Amendment ) Act, 2008” Section 11(b0 of this notification stipulates that no person shall manufacture, stock, distribute or sell plastic begs made of virgin of recycled, degradable or non –degradable plastic bags which are less than 40 microns in thickness. Another notification issued on 7th January
2009 under the powers delegated to Government of Delhi by the Central Government under Section -5 of the Environment (Protection ) Act, 1986, which prohibits the use, sale and storage off all kinds of plastic bags in Five Star and Four Star Hotels, Hospitals with 100 more beds except the use of plastic bags as pres cribbed under Bio-medical Waste (management and handling) Rules, seats, all fruits and vegetable outlets selling different consumer products including fruits and vegetables.
(b) West Bengal Pollution Control Board has banned manufacture, sale and use of plastic carry bags in ecologically fragile areas viz the entire Sunderban areas, Hilly areas of Darjeeling distinct, Sub-division, CRZ areas (Digha, Sagar, Bakkhali etc.), Forest areas and in different heritage and tourist site.
(c) Action has been initiated for public awareness (trainings, workshops) for plastic waste management such as proper disposal of plastic bottles, banning of plastic carry bags, use of cloth/jute bags etc.
(d) Coloured Plastic carry bags have been banned in Himachal Pradesh. Use of plastic carry begs have been banned in some districts in Mizoram /West Bengal
(e) Jammu and Kashmir has also banned polythene carry bags under Non Bio- Degradable Material (Management, Handling and Disposal) Act, 2007 with effect from 11.5.2009.
(f) Government of Himachal Pradesh has taken a cabinet decision for complete bad of plastics in Himachal Pradesh under the HP Non-Biodegradable Garbage Control Act, 1995 effective from 15th August 2009.
Recently HighCourt bench of madurai have asked govt to ban plastic on public places to have a green state.