Article originally written by Vishal Tandan ,B.V.Sc and AH IAAS,Paklihawa
Pollution means the changes or the disturbing factors introduce in the natural environment that causes negative effects to the nature and its living creatures. Air pollution, water pollution, plastic pollution, thermal pollution, soil contamination, noise pollution, radioactive pollution are some major types of pollution in the world. We use plastic in our day to day life in various forms. It is very useful. Then why we are talking and raising problems with plastics. Is plastic a problem? What happens if we, after using a plastic material, throw it into the river or on the street like the bad kids do? This plastic material will remain as such without degrading for hundreds of years. Now everyone can think of the problem with plastic.
Plastic is the man made material that is used in many products like bottles, bag, clothes, packs, buckets, pipes, writing pen and many more. This is use in wide variety of things related with daily human life. Plastic is any group of natural or synthetic organic polymer with the ability to deform without breaking. Two types of plastic are thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic. Thermoplastic can be heated and remolded over and over again whereas thermosetting plastic takes a permanent shape once it is molded. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), bakelite, etc are some examples of plastic.
Cause of problem
The problem with plastic is that, most of the plastic is non-biodegradable. Like that of other things such as vegetable residue, papers, tree leaves, etc plastic do not rot and is not degraded by the microorganisms of the nature. Each year 400 millions tons of plastic is produced and 40% of that is single use plastic that we use once and dumped it. There are many causes for the plastic pollution. One of the main reason is that, it is the cheapest and most widely used material at present context. It is easily available in almost all countries. This is the reason it has been overused. We people use many plastic items say plastic bottles, polyethylene bags, baby toys, etc and throw them haphazardly after they become useless. Such disposing of plastic garbage leads to the accumulation of this non-biodegradable material in our surrounding environment including river banks and sea beaches.
Effects of pollution
The effects of plastic pollution are dangerous to the environment and the life. The dumped plastic items form trash island, garbage patches, plastic hips. The innocent animals ( that may be smaller microorganism to larger mammals ) ingest plastic which is poisonous to them. Toxins from plastic causes negative effects to living water bodies and human. Many cases have been recorded when there are toxic plastic chemicals in drinking water. Dumped plastic form hazardous chemicals with water. These chemicals decrease the quality of the soil. Burning of plastic release poisonous chemicals. Polluted air when inhaled by human and animals affect their health and can cause respiratory problems. Thus plastic is not ecofriendly.
#Recycling: The most promising and quick way to reduce plastic waste is recycling the material. The recycling industry might eventually be a path leading to considerable opportunities and solutions. In other sense recycling means reduction of the use of plastics.
#Alternatives and biodegradable plastic: Another solution is searching of alternatives over plastic. For example: use of paper bags in shopping markets. In such shopping markets, using of plastic bags is banned. Biodegradable plastic have been considered as a future sustainable option to reduce our voracious demand of plastic materials.
#Media and creative awareness: Media and NGO’s, INGO’s programs can help spreading awareness related to plastic pollution, its effects to the ecosystem including human, causes of pollution and the role of public to mitigate such problem.
#Reducing manufacture: Public and government pressure to the manufacturers in order to reduce further production of plastic. Instead they can be motivated for recycling the previous non degraded ones.
“Where there is a problem, there is a solution too.” The challenging plastic pollution problem has been invited by humans. The overuse and negligence of this artificial material has been causing negative impacts in whole ecosystem. To overcome this problem every person must think about solutions and alternatives. In my opinion the recycling procedure and research for the alternatives should go side by side. Unless the alternatives for plastic are found, reducing manufacture and recycling of existing plastics is important. This may not completely solve the problem but of course can help reduce the plastic pollution.