Answers to plastic and polythene wastes  

Marksman     | Published: June 12, 2018 22:27:27 | Updated: June 13, 2018 21:19:33


There are three menacing aspects to the environmental  challenge  that we are  manifestly  embedded with-thanks to  deposits of    non-bio-degradable  plastic -polythene  wastes.

 The  first aspect  is the  magnitude of  the accumulation:  Through the world's  ten river basins 800 thousand (80 lakh) metric  tonnes of polythene  wastes pass  to the Ocean floor. The Ganges, Brahmaputra and Jamuna  rank the    fifth largest carrier of the wastes.

According to  a report by Environment and Social Development Organisation (ESDO) , 650 thousand  (65 lakh) tonnes of plastic waste is deposited   on ground and  under  water  in Bangladesh. Per day addition to that figure is put at 3000 tonnes. Identifying   plastic and polythene bags as a veritable threat to environment, the private monitoring  organisation  reveals a dreadful fact: Whereas the rate of organic waste is around 5.2 per cent  that of plastic waste is at 7.5 per cent.

The second deeply  concerning  factor  is  that most of  the plastic  has   got enmeshed with land and water, and we have no mechanism as yet to separate   them out and recycle them into new products. So we are exposed to menacingly harmful intrusion of Di-oxine and Hydrogen Cyanide into our bodies. It is through vegetables and   fish that it enters the food chain.

Due to plastic wastes, research shows a spike in the incidence of Asthma, lung cancer, liver problems and skin diseases. Actually, ESDO has found  plastic grains  in the stomachs of domestic animals and fish.

That unfortunately turns out to be portrait of a nation that stood out in 2002 for pioneering a ban on use and production of polythene. The irony doesn't  end there; Bangladesh is now  the 12th largest exporter of plastic products. And having lost the battle, we don't mind being shamed by the existence  of  over 100  poly bag producing factories. In 2010, however, we made a law for use of  jute bag as a wrapper of  merchandise.  Evidently, it is swamped by  the ubiquitous   plastic. 

Such  palliatives can't work against  an habitual affliction made up of   convenience and feather-light weight  wrapped around a commodity carried with ease! More to the point---whether by default, or through or a force of habit  reinforced by impunity culture-- hundreds and thousands of people  live off the plastic trade, like it or not!

  So the  approach to battling it  would have to be circumspect,  pragmatic and fail-proof. Luckily, we have seen a vastly stepped-up campaign on the just-concluded World Environment Day for coming to grips with the apocalyptic  resurgence of plastic and polythene  worldwide. So much so that we may look around  to    take  a leaf of  a  global manual that is not only  shaping  but  also promising practical solutions  for    containment of an environmental  menace  that could only exacerbate climate change effects.

Rather than    wasting  any more energy  or  risking  failure  on trying  to flog a dead horse of a  ban on plastic   or   striking at the root by way of 'cutting  head to rid  ourselves of the headache', here is what we can do: The companies  which sell soft drinks in plastic bottles or mineral water  or something else in plastic or polythene containers, could collect  the containers  at a nominal price in order to have them recycled into newer products. 

It is pertinent to note   a development from  Brussels, the  European Commission on Monday whilst proposing a  ban on  single-use plastic products put the burden of cleaning up the  waste on manufacturers in an effort to reduce marine litter.

The European Union (EC) doesn't stop short at that  as its proposal  requires EU countries to collect 90 per cent  of single-use  plastic drink bottles by 2025. And  producers  are tasked to help cover costs of waste management and clean-up.

Something  along this line will have to be thought of, and  acted on, if necessary on a gradual but  time-bound basis. After all, it is not   rocket science!                  

  safarihi43@gmail.com

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