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World needs to bring down plastic pollution now

India has decided to ban all kinds of single-use plastic by 2020. We as the host country of this year’s World Environment Day can lead the world in tackling plastic pollution menace as our conventional talent of recycling is age-old and excellent

India was the global host for this year’s World Environment Day that is celebrated on June 5 across the world. The theme of this year was ‘Beating Plastic Pollution’ and the tag line was ‘If you can’t reuse it, refuse it’. Plastic is an environmental challenge of recent origin, but this is unprecedented in its scale and its impact on our planet. India, as the host country, made a big announcement that it will ban all kinds of single-use plastic by 2022. Most of our rivers, landfill sites are clogged with plastic waste. If India really wants to become Swachh by 2019, tackling plastic waste is a must and foremost task.

If we look at the figures and the impact of plastic on our planet, it looks very scary. There is no doubt that plastic has made life easier in some ways but its negative impacts are humongous. From our computer, keyboard to mobile phones and our several daily use items, plastic is used in abundance. Several of such items can be recycled but the main problem lies in the single-use plastic items such as bottles and plastic bags. About 50 per cent of plastic items used today are single-use. According to data available with United Nations, India alone produces more than 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste everyday that is almost 8-10 per cent of its total waste generated.

Plastic items if not recycled end up in landfills and do not disappear from the planet for hundreds of years. They have invaded our lands and oceans alike, killing about 100,000 marine lives across 700 marine species each year, including some endangered ones. Further, latest studies show 83 per cent of tap water being contaminated with plastic across the world.

Now, the question is what we can do to end this problem. There are several steps which governments need to take like banning of single-use plastic items and gradually phase-out the production of plastic. There are many initiatives which individuals can take to save our planet. The first and foremost is stop using plastic items and replace them with more sustainable alternatives. For example, big corporate houses can stop using plastic water bottles in their events. These can be easily replaced by steel or glass tumblers. Even if one has to use them, they need to be sensitized on segregating of plastic waste from other kinds of waste to maximize recycling.

Civil Society Organisations have been asking people to stop using plastic bags and carry their own bags for shopping but this has not happened at a larger scale because of easily available bags at shopping malls and street-side vendors. We need to understand that all of us need to fight this problem collectively to save our planet and make this world a sustainable place to live for generations to come.

About 50 per cent of plastic items used today are single-use. According to data available with United Nations, India alone produces more than 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste everyday that is almost 8-10 per cent of its total waste generated

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