Meaning of Plastic Pollution
Plastic pollution is the introduction of plastic products into the environment which then upset the existing ecosystems in different ways. These pollutants cause environmental degradation and also affect different living organisms and their habitats negatively.When plastic products accumulate in the environment, they begin to cause problems for wildlife, humans, and other living organisms.
In India, which accounts for almost 18% of the world population in 2.4% of the global land area, the accumulation of plastic waste is huge. An estimate in 2015 revealed that 60 cities across the country generated over 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day. Even if plastic is a convenient alternative, it is a difficult substance for nature to digest.
Every year plastic waste costs marine ecosystems $13 billion in damages, says a report released recently by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The estimated 10-20 million tonnes of plastic waste that finds its way into oceans, smothers coral reefs, routinely entangles marine wildlife, and more insidiously, degrades into ‘microplastics’ that transfer toxins into the food chain.
Microplastics (or plastic particles of 5mm diameter or less) are ingested by creatures ranging from sea birds to mussels,
Causes of Plastic Pollution
1. Plastic bags from shopping: When you buy items from the retail store, chances are that they’ll be packaged in plastic bags. Most of them are thermoplastics that are produced in large quantities. When these plastics have been used, they are usually thrown away or discarded because the next time you go back to the store, your items will be packaged in new plastic bags. These shopping bags are major polluters of the environment and it’s common to see them thrown around.
2. Pet Bottles: Pet bottles are also common plastic pollutants. These bottles are normally used for feeding or administering medication. The damaged bottles are then disposed of and they end up polluting the environment in one way or the other.
3. Failure to recycle: The failure to recycle is one of the main reasons. someone will use a plastic bag once and then throw it away because he or she knows that she’ll get a new one on the next shopping trip. This results in so many plastic papers in the environment. It doesn’t help that garbage collection companies do not also encourage their clients to put recyclable waste separately from those that need to be disposed of.
4.Using Plastic Disposables: people use plastic disposable cups, plates and forks to make their work easier but these plastic disposables are usually thrown away after the party and end up causing plastic pollution in several ways.
Effects of Plastic Pollution
1. Affects Human life and Health: Plastics are mainly made from petrochemicals. It, therefore, goes without saying that they are not good for human health and can cause problems in different ways. When plastics degrade in water sources, they release toxins that can cause poising or cancerous diseases and these diseases are very costly to treat and difficult to manage.
2. Degrades Quality of Land and Affects Agriculture: Plastic papers strewn all over the place are an eyesore. They make the surrounding appear untidy and unpleasant. When they break down, they release chemicals into the ground that make land unproductive and unconducive for plant growth. Plastic pollution, affects agriculture by degrading the quality of soil and, in turn, affects the balance that is required for an ecosystem to thrive.
3. Poses Threat To Animal Health: Cattle are very notorious when it comes to eating plastic bags. Since these materials are not digestible by the stomach, they can cause stomach upsets and poisoning due to the chemicals released from the components of plastic.
4. Disrupts Marine life:Commercial fishing where plastic nets are used introduce toxins into the ocean and pollute the water. This is harmful to the marine life. Organisms that live in water can also ingest plastic materials and die because of the toxins contained in them.
5. Blocks The Drainage System: plastics are a nuisance when it comes to having a free-flowing drainage system. They can cause blockage and prevent the flow of waste material. When this happens, the air can be polluted due to the bad smell of decomposing materials. It would also cause a host of bacterial diseases. Blocked drainage systems are also very risky during the rainy season. They inhibit the easy flow and drainage of rain water. This can cause flooding, especially in urban centers.
Solutions to control plastic pollution
1.The government should restrict plastic production and encourage recycling through appropriate policies.
2.Every shopkeeper should go in for abd encourage the use of biodegradable packing materials while shoppers should use cloth bags and Eco-friendly substitutes (cloth/paper/jute bags, leaves/areca leaf plates, paper straws) should be developed.
3.When the water in the container has been used up, it is taken to the respective company for a refill. In this way, less number of plastics are manufactured and the environment is conserved. This method is also saves a lot of money
4. People just throwing around plastic materials without much thought about the consequences of their actions.so, Individuals should strive to dispose of plastic materials only in designated areas like dustbins.
5.People can collect the waste material in separate bins and give them to companies that engage in the recycling of plastics. Companies can also offer incentives by paying for these types of garbage so that people are motivated to give them out for recycling.
6.Educating people about the effects of plastic pollution and ways in which it can be prevented or controlled is a step in the right direction because it raises awareness. This can be done by community-based organizations or government agencies tasked with environmental conservation.