Importance of plastic waste recycling
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Are we humans, problem creators or problem solvers? Think about it!
Plastic is a good product
Let us accept the fact that plastic is a brilliant product. Things have changed in our lives because of the invention of plastic. 26% of things we use in cars, aeroplanes are plastic. With the usage of steel, came Industrial revolution and when we started using plastic, came the retail revolution. Plastic found a strong place in our kitchen and other places for storage and it also gave job to thousands. Plastic is actually wonderful but people look at it as a harmful product. Yes it is bad when it turns into waste and it is a cheap item so people have less respect for it.
We Indians are great Jugads!
Always finding ways to reuse the worn and torn items. An old T-shirt will become a duster and then a ‘pocha’. The old newspaper will find its way to a ‘kabadiwala’ and old clothes will be exchanged for vessels! We are not a ‘throwaway society’. So plastic waste is found in our environment too, waiting to be reused.
Did you know?
Plastic was not a problem a few decades ago. Now it stands out as a major issue. 500 billion bags are produced every year around the world. Almost 150 bags per person! In the past 40 years, 8 billion metric ton plastic has been created in the world, out of which only 9% has been recycled. This means 91% of plastic waste is lying in the rivers, oceans, mountains and forests.
Impact of plastic in the environment
Research says it takes 250 to 1000 years for plastic to decompose. Of course, it’s a scientific guess as no one will ever live to prove it! Plastic was invented @125 years ago and it is still present on this earth. When littered on roads, the plastic gets broken into smaller pieces and enters the soil through rainwater and seeps into the rivers and oceans. 70% of the groundwater is contaminated with microplastics, 73% salt contains plastic as we get out salt from the sea.
Garbage thrown carelessly in the plastic bags are eaten by animals, and some part of plastic goes into their stomach while looking for food. Often plastic with garbage when thrown in the river or canals get mixed in the oceans. 80% of the garbage in the oceans, is micro-sized plastic, which is eaten by small fish which is in turn food of large fish and thus large fish comes on your table with stomach full of plastic.
Everyday birds are dying around the world, 100% of turtles have plastics in their body. 35% wastage in the world is plastic.
The fact of the matter is that plastic is a good product. During this COVID 19 pandemic, it has saved many lives. The frontline warriors used it for PPE kit, a mask for shielding their faces. But the flip side is that in these four months we have created 40% plastic waste. The one-time-use plastic-like straw, plates, other cutlery is also responsible for adding to the waste. The irony is, we are all aware of it. The danger of plastic waste is written in black and white all around, but we tend to ignore it. As young students we focused on our education, as young adults we were more concerned about our career and we all thought that problem of plastic waste is somebody else’s job. But few sensitive people realized the need to work on it and have successfully experimented and used innovative methods to recycle it and use its by-products for various purposes.
As an evolving society, we must understand, support, and do our bit. The least we can do is to separate the dry and wet waste in different bags and educate the collectors to dump it in the same manner at the collection center. Another very important habit to be developed from an early age is to stop throwing the plastic bags after eating wafers and other eatables while traveling or touring. When conscious efforts are made through educating and changing habits, the change will be felt and experienced. Instead of saying ban plastic, it is better to reduce creating waste and find better methods to preserve our environment.
Session By @ Dr. Medha Tadpatrikar - Rudra Environmental, Pune
Written By @ Ms. Geeta Sikdar - Headmistress, Navrachana & Vidyani Pre-Primary Section