Single-use plastic is basically a plastic that is disposable, which has its usage limited to once and then it has to be thrown away or recycled. These are commonly known as disposable plastics that are either discarded or reused. As the name suggests, since its usage extends to only one time, thus, the cost of production is very low and easily affordable. This is the reason why almost all the items that we all use have something made of ‘single-use’ plastic. Further, it is also a fact that the products having these man-made and inorganic materials have become a significant part of our lifestyle. These items are things like plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles and most food packaging, shopping bags, plastic food packaging, toothbrushes etc., generally we use these in our day to day lives. It not only ends up spoiling the environment but also, we end up littering our homes too. It can be concluded that use of these materials has become a severe addiction to human being.
Looking at the composition of plastics, they are made from oil, where heavy crude oil is separated into portions or fragments. Consequently, the entire procedure of producing, distributing and then discarding the plastic itself becomes a significant source of pollution. Most of the plastic that has been discarded is collected that either gets burnt or disposed of to some landfill. The ones that are astray, sooner or later, end up in the ocean. Plastic is also a petroleum-based product which takes an unnaturally long time to decompose which might be 10 years or even 100 years too. There may be various environmental factors which can cause the plastic to break down until it becomes microscopic or tiny particles. When the plastic breaks down, it in turn releases many of the toxic chemicals and as a result, the soil in the landfills, as well as the groundwater gets polluted. Once the land or the water get polluted, it somehow makes it to our body systems through food. Studies have shown that these chemicals are poisonous and deadly ones and can affect us leading to cancer, disrupting hormonal activities, affecting endocrine and immune systems etc. Most of the plastic littering the earth eventually finds its way to the ocean. Even though single-use plastic has a comparatively low production cost, the same is not true for its disposal. Collecting all the billions of pieces of discarded single-use plastic each year, separating, cleaning and then treating it, incurs a very high cost. Thus, with the above discussion, it is clear that it is completely reasonable to phase out the single-use plastics as it not pollutes the environment but also affects the health of animals and human beings. Our Government has therefore looked into this matter and has aimed to completely eliminate the use of these plastics by 2022. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has set the goal to make India free of single-use plastics, had appealed to the entire nation to stop the use of single-use plastic in his speech on India’s Independence Day, 2019.
The Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister had earlier asked Pepsi, Coca Cola and other packaged drinks manufacturers to come up with an alternative packaging solution. The Minister had organized a meeting especially with manufacturers of bottled water and various government departments in order to find a suitable substitute to single-use plastic bottles. The industry is targeting to produce packaging material that is recyclable as well as safe for the environment with the use of high viscosity polymers.
Reducing our individual and community-based plastic usage is of the utmost importance. What you absolutely need or can’t do without, such plastic items should be reused. And finally, the plastic, which cannot be further reused, should be recycled. While, there are some countries which are not in support of reuse of plastics. There has been a study where it has been mentioned that though it is absolutely fine to reuse plastic bags but it is very dangerous to reuse the plastic bottles as experts say all plastics used in food containers and plastic bottles could release harmful chemicals if used repeatedly. With such massive amounts of plastic trash choking and polluting our waterways, oceans, landfills etc., we are already up to the surface in this toxic soup. First and foremost, we must at least slow down, if not put a complete stop on single-use plastic production. It is well said Knowledge without any action is just as useless as ignorance. Thus, we shall avoid using the plastics and make our environment a better place to live.
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