Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: Single Use Plastic Ban
Introduction/History of Plastics
Susan Franklin, the former instructor at Seattle Pacific University of Washington DC, has written a book on the history of plastic. She says that before the plastic was invented in the world there were natural fibers like cotton, wool, jute and rubber. Apart from this, arrangements were made to keep or carry anything with the help of glass, animal skins and horns.
The first man-made plastic was invented by Alexander Parkes, who was a metallurgist and inventor from Birmingham, England. He created Parkensien, the first man-made plastic in 1855. Plastic is one of the most revolutionary inventions of human history. This substance made by chemical reaction is very strong, easily molded in any form and is not going to perish for several thousand years.
It was invented due to these features but these features have now become the biggest threat to nature. Have you ever thought that if plastic is completely eliminated from this world then what will be its effect on our life? But it is now mandatory to impose a ban on plastics because it damages the environment to a great extent and causes a significant damage to the flora and fauna on the Earth.
Ban on Single Use Plastic in India
After big schemes like Swachh Bharat and Har Ghar Jal, now Prime Minister Narendra Modi has officially launched a campaign to end the use of single use plastic in the country. In fact, on 15th August, 2019, on the occasion of 73rd Independence Day of India, PM Modi in his speech from Red Fort announced to free India from plastic pollution.
He has appealed to the people of the country and especially the shopkeepers and traders to contribute in this direction. The Prime Minister said that the campaign to free the country from plastic waste will be started simultaneously in the entire country from the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi i.e. 2nd of October, 2019. Indian Railways has already started a massive campaign to free the country from single-use plastic.
Now officially PM Modi has launched a campaign against it. But the question is that, what is single-use plastic and what plastic products come under its realm?
The Possible List of Six Items that will be Banned in India
- Plastic carry bags
- Plastic cups and plates
- Plastic wrappers
- Plastic bottles
- Plastic straws
- Certain types of plastic sachets used in packaging
What is Single-Use Plastic?
Single-use plastic means, the plastic which is used only once. In other words, the disposable material made up of plastic and is thrown after its use, can be described as single use plastic. In everyday life, there are many such plastic products that we throw at once after using them. A similar plastic is called single use plastic. It is also known as disposable plastic.
Talking about single-use plastic products, it includes – plastic bags, plastic bottles, straws, cups, plates, plastic used in food packaging, gift wrappers and disposable cups of coffee and tea etc.
There is 300 million tonnes of plastic production every year. Of this, 150 million tonnes of plastic is single-use. That is, we throw this plastic once used. At the same time, only 10 to 13 percent of the plastic can be re-cycled worldwide.
Announcement of Clean India Mission on Gandhi Jayanti
The Prime Minister has appealed to free the country from plastic waste by hoisting the tricolor from the ramparts of the Red Fort. Even before this, he had started the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, which was appreciated not only in the country but in the world as well. Its effect was also widely obserevd. This time the Prime Minister has appealed to free the country from plastic waste under the Swachh Bharat Mission. For this too, he has chosen the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti. He said that the government will make the country free from single-use plastic.
PM’s Appeal to the People
PM Modi appealed to the people to collect all the single use plastic from 2nd October, 2019. He suggested, submitting all the plastic to municipal corporation or sanitation workers and help in freeing the country from single use plastic. He informed that the plastic that will be collected from common people will be recycled and used in various ways. He said that plastic is causing various problems not only in the country but also around the world. Therefore, common people will have to launch a campaign of liberation from it.
Special Role of Traders and Shopkeepers
The Prime Minister has appealed to the merchants and shopkeepers to give their full contribution in making the country plastic free. Their special cooperation from them is needed to free the country from the pollution of plastics. They should have to come forward to eradicate this big and burning problem that not only affects the country but also affecting the world environment.
The Prime-Minister told the shopkeepers that they display several types of advertisement boards on their shop. He suggested them to display a new board on their shops for the people that one cannot ask for a plastic bag from them. He advised the shopkeepers and traders to gift a bag that is not made up of plastic on the occasion of New Year and festivals like Deepawali instead of diaries and calendars that they give as gifts.
The Poor will Get Financial Help by the Ban on Single Use Plastic
The Prime Minister said that freeing the country from plastic will not only provide relief from environmental pollution, but can also help the poor families and widows by making and selling clothe and jute bags. This will change their lives. They will get financial help after selling these bags. This will add to their income.
E-commerce Companies Consume 40 Percent of Single Use Plastic
E-commerce companies are in the forefront of single plastic use in India. According to an estimate, about 40 percent of the plastic is used in the e-commerce sector. Actually, e-commerce companies, including smart -phone companies, deliver more of their product to the customer in the packets wrapped in plastic sheets, so they use plastic more. However, companies like Amazon, Flip-kart and other companies who sell their products online have also taken initiatives to reduce the use of plastic.
Why is Single Use Plastic Going to be Banned?
The declining environment due to climate change and global warming is the biggest concern for the world at this time. In such a situation, plastic pollution prevention and plastic waste management has emerged as a major issue. Several lakh ton of plastic is being produced every year, which is not biodegradable. It does not dissolve in soil easily and harmful for the soil fertility as well as leaves after affect on all living beings directly or indirectly.
Most plastics are not biodegradable and at some times plastics break down and release toxic chemicals. Such chemicals reach our body through water and food materials and cause serious problems. Therefore countries around the world are devising stricter strategies to end the use of single-use plastics.
Reasons to Ban on Plastic Bags
Although there are many reasons why plastic bags should be banned and due to this many countries have taken strict steps to reduce the use of plastic, some of these reasons are explained below:
- Land and water are constantly polluted by the waste that is spread through plastic bags.
- Due to plastic, there has been a threat to the terrestrial and aquatic animals.
- Chemicals released from waste plastic bags mixed into soil and make it unfertile and convert the fertile land into barren.
- Plastic bags also have a bad effect on human health.
- Plastic bags also choke the drains, sewage and sewer.
Bad Effects of Single Use Plastics due to Chemicals Used in Manufacturing it
Plastic bags consist of many toxic chemicals that cause great harm to health and environment. Chemicals such as xylene, ethylene oxide and benzene are used to make plastic bags. These chemicals cause many diseases and various types of disorders in human and animals.
Plastics are also very harmful to the environment, causing harm to humans, animals, plants and all living things. Toxic chemicals and poisonous gases are emitted by burning and throwing away plastics. The most dangerous Methane gas is emitted that is the main cause of the depletion of the Ozone layer that intensifies the global warming and climate change process.
India has Waged the War
India has waged a war against plastics for above reasons. Single-use plastic is being banned under the first phase. In the second phase, the remaining single-use plastic will be collected and recycled. The government is also going to impose a fine on the use of single-use plastic, but this step will be taken six months after the ban. This is so that they get a chance to explore its alternative options. Some states of the country have already banned the sell, use and storage of single-use plastics.
In this regard, the Ministry of Environment has issued an advisory in the month of August, 2019. The advisory states that plastic products such as artificial flowers, banners, flags, flower pots, water bottles, stationery items etc made up of plastic should not be used in places like government offices, public places, private company’s offices, shops, hospitals, airports, and railway stations and platforms etc.
Countries that Banned Plastic Bags
Many countries around the world have either banned plastic bags or imposed heavy taxes on them to reduce their use. This includes countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Morocco, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Taiwan, England, Germany, Hawaii, New York, Italy, Scotland, Rhode Island and Maine. These measures have helped to overcome the problem of plastic bags to a great extent.
But this problem has not been completely resolved yet because these measures have not been implemented properly. Plastic bags are still available in the black market in some of these countries and are still being used illegally.
Some Measures Taken by Developed Countries to Control on Single Use Plastic
In some developed countries and in India too, special dust bins are put in places to throw out the waste in the form of plastic. Non-biodegradable waste is kept into these bins which are further carried for recycling.
The used plastic products should be thrown with a great care because it takes a long period of time to diminish and damage the environment in various ways. Unjust throwing of plastic materials not only can be consumed by the animals that lead them to death but also damages the fertility of the soil. Whether it is thrown or buried in the ground or thrown in water, its harmful effects are not reduced.
In Many places in India it is a common scene that the heaps of the plastics are burnt by the local authorities to reduce its volume that also affects the respiratory process when inhaled and create harm to the environment at a large extent.
Public should Support Plastic Ban
Although plastics have been banned by the Government of India in many states, people are still seen using them. Whenever government authorities start taking initiatives, the shopkeepers stop selling items in plastic carry bags for few days and again start the practice when the intensity of checking slowed down. No concrete steps are taken by the government regarding the manufacturing of plastic bags.
Now this is the time of action when people also need to contribute to make this ban a success. The educated people can carry out their responsibility in this context, should stop the use of plastic and motivate others for it.
Below are some ways to support the government in this matter by the common people:
- By Control Access: People are in the habit of using plastic bags, it is difficult for them to stop using plastics at once. To be successful in this scheme, people have to become conscious of its adverse effects on the environment and must control its use. By taking pledge for not using plastic further and keeping a jute or cloth bag while going for shopping will make a change in habit.
- By Adopt Options: Apart from plastic, there are many other environmentally friendly items that people can use. Instead of plastic bags to bring goods from the grocery store, people can take clothes or jute bags that can be used again and again while going to the market.
- BY Reuse: People should use the plastic bags lying in their house as many times as possible before throwing them.
- By Spreading Awareness: Apart from this, the government should also create awareness among the people about the negative impact of plastic bags among the people and it should be banned by publicising and spreading information about it verbally or through electronic media among people.
The use of plastic in our daily life has increased so much that it will not be easy to ban it suddenly because sometimes customers have no option other than the use of plastic. Therefore, we have to look for some eco-friendly alternatives to produce biodegradable and compostable plastics to reduce its utilization. In addition, the most important role in making the single use plastic ban campaign successful will be the local bodies. These bodies will have to be fully prepared in this regard.
However, the success of any law or campaign depends on how much the general public participates in it. Today we have come so far in the race of modernity that it is difficult to completely eliminate the use of plastic, but its use can definitely be reduced. Also, its disposal can be better arranged.