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Ever growing plastic pollution must be reduced

One of the biggest fears about plastic bags is that they threaten and endanger the environment. Plastic bags pollute the land and water, plus since they are lightweight, plastic materials can travel long distances by wind and water. Besides, these material bags are made from non-renewable resources. The majority of plastic bags are made of polypropylene, a material derived from petroleum and natural gas. Both of them are non-renewable fossil fuel-based resources, which contribute to global climate change. Most of these plastics are not recyclable. Though some kinds of plastic bags can be recyclable, many don’t possess the technology or the plants to recycle them. According to various estimates, the actual recycling rate for plastic bags is about 5-6 per cent.

Since plastic bags are not recyclable, being so lightweight they can travel long distances by wind and water. They litter our landscapes, get caught in fences and trees, float around in waterways, and can eventually make their way into the world’s oceans. While they reach, they break up into tiny little pieces and are consumed by wildlife both on land and water. It is estimated that 46,000-1,000,000 plastic fragments floating within every square mile of the world’s oceans. Due to their size, they are often mistaken for food by animals, birds, and marine life like fish, whales and sea turtles. Thereby congesting their digestive system, it causes health issues such as infections or even death by suffocation. Many animals also get entangled or trapped.

Due to increase in the use of plastic bags and disposing problems, plastics are creating garbage in the environment. Plastic constitutes about 35% of garbage in India. As well as whole production of plastic factories emits their chemical waste in air, water or soil. Indian Government has already banned plastic bags or polythene bags, which are below 50 microns which means very low in weight. Polythene bags are widely used all over the world. The consumption of plastic bags is heavy and it is being circulated in all classes of people from higher to lower.

Still there is no alternative for polythene bags. Oils, flours, watery items and many other things are wrapped with plastic bags since there is no perfect alternative. Plastics are heavily used in packaging industry. In other hand Paper bags will tear fast and cannot be used with oil and watery items. And also it cannot be roughly used when dealing with transportation, goods packaging, etc. Moreover, polythene industry is hugely business oriented.

Plastic carry bags are the most affordable one compared to any other bags. Most of the people are not carrying any bags when going for shopping, so consequently they are demanding plastic carry bags for every purchase even for a single product. Hence, merchandiser are forced to buy plastic bags (60 paise/bag) as they can’t afford cloth or paper bags which comes at a price of 3–4 rupees per bag.

Paper bags are environment friendly, but it can’t withstand more load. In stark contrast to that, even the thickness is less, plastic bags can sustain more load compared to paper bags. We can also use jute bags, as it has better load bearing capacity but again cost is the prime factor as it comes with 5–10 rupees per bag, ultimately seller won’t prefers these bags.

In food packaging, plastic bags are more preferred option because of its unparalleled benefits. It is lightweight, won’t easily degrade in hot and cold temperatures, provides resistance against external influences and its design flexibility facilitates better adaptability to every product.

Apart from commercial purpose, people use plastic carry bags in everyday life. This doesn’t mean that common people are purchasing plastic bags in large quantity, but they are getting by buying their daily necessities in local shops. Because of all the points, I mentioned in the content, commoners also using plastic bags to keep things away from external influences and carry things. Thus, this has become a lifestyle factor at a very root level.

To conclude, necessity is the key for creation. Plastic bags replaced bio-degradable cloth and jute bags. May be in the future plastic bags will be replaced by some other product. Hope for the best to reduce ever growing plastic pollution.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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