Plastic waste is not a problem in India anymore

India & plastic

With the population of 1.2 billion, India is one of the major plastic producing as well as plastic using nation. But there is handful of places in India where disposal of plastic wastes has given importance.

River ganga polluted with plastics and other wastes

River Ganga, is considered to be one of the most polluted river in the world. And it is also the holiest river in India. Lakhs of people visits river Ganga to wash out sins. All the household as well as industrial wastes is dumped in Ganga from the cities like Varanasi, Allahabad, Patna, Kolkata, and many other small cities. Villages on the banks of river is not open defecation free.

Government’s Ganga Rejuvenation plan known as Namami Gange. Rs. 20,000 Crore flagship project with objectives of abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of Ganga. The program will cover 8 states, 12 rivers and several towns on the bank of River Ganga.

Not only river Ganga, but also Mithi river which flows through the financial capital of India, Mumbai. It is no longer considered a river as it is clogged with plastics and its bank in concreted. Removal of mangroves further adding problems.

In July 2018, a high tide returned 9 tonnes of garbage back into the world famous Queen’s necklace of Mumbai, Marine Drive.

9 tonnes of garbage on Marine Drive

Maharashtra banned the use of plastic, which is a major development to fight plastic pollution. In this over populated city, it is very difficult to segregate the plastic waste from the municipal waste. The drive is encouraged by the citizens and mass awareness programs, two color bins are available to segregate wastes. Still it is not enough.

On 26 July, 2006 heavy rainfall poured in the city together with high tide. 944 mm of rainfall was recorded in Santa Cruz, Mumbai within 24 hours.  Mithi nadi couldn’t take it and Mumbai was flooded. Many people lost their lives. Financial capital was on a stand still causing loss of  Rs. 5.50 billion. It also affected the banking system of the country and National stock exchange, Bombay stock exchange was working partially.

plastic man of india

Indian scientist named Rajagopalan Vasudevan, popularly known as Plastic man of India. He works as a professor and is associated with many waste management programs across the country.

He developed a method to reuse plastic waste and use it in construction of high quality of roads in India. He was awarded Padma Shri award in 2018.

Watch the video, the story of plastic roads in India

 With the help of Prof. Rajagopalan Vasudevan, India has laid more than 20,000 kilo meters of road.

Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation in the Government of India Nitin Gadkari said there is no need of maintenance of roads for first 5 years.  He further added, every 1 kilo meter of plastic roads and 4 meter wide, bitumen worth Rs. 50,000 is saved. Smart roads is the dream of Nitin Gadkari in which SMS alert, greening of dividers and adjacent roads to reduce pollution and accidents. E-way bills, RFID technology of fast tags, etc are already in use.

Rajagopalan Vasudevan, the plastic man of India developed the method of constructing plastic roads

History

Plastic was first invented by Leo Hendrik Baekeland in 1907.  It was made using phenol and formaldehyde. Plastic is now most commonly made from petrochemicals.

Popularity

Plastic soon become popular due to its properties like water resistant, light weight, and most importantly, easy to manufacture. Decorative articles, vessels, microwave friendly, and other such technological enhancements rise in plastic industries.

Later, when the Information Technology hits the world in late 1990s, plastic was the major raw material used in manufaturing electronic devices of which the most common one is the mobile phone.

Plastic soon becomes an alternative to the naturally available raw materials like wood, stones, skins and bones of animals. As it is light in weight, it replaces the glass and metal containers used for serving beverages.

Different types of plastics were invented later like silicone, nylon, synthetic rubber, etc. Hardly any industry left which doesn’t uses plastic.

Environmental challenge

Plastic Industries were busy minting money but very few thought about its side effects.  Plastic is non-degradable. Even if the plastic is burnt, it releases a huge quantity of carbon as it is made of petroleum. The plastic made in its initial years is still there on the earth.

Disposing of 1 kilo gram of plastic produces a liter of hydrocarbons.

Most of the important cities of various countries are the port cities which is highly populated and produces large amount of wastes. These waste are dumped in the ocean degrading the population of fishes and unhealthy lifestyle of people who eats those fishes. Mercury pollution in the sea  of Japan caused the diseases know as Minamata Disease.

Many plastic island are formed in the pacific ocean. Due to flow of current, all the garbage are collected on the western and eastern end of Pacific ocean.

Plastic in ocean

fight against plastic

In the late 1970s, world was introduce to the harmful green house gases. And industrial revolution turned out to be core factor in depleting ozone layer. Montreal protocol was signed and it was binding to all the countries to phase out CFCs(chlorofluorocarbons).

Later in 1992, UNFCCC Conferance of parties to reduce emissions. A $100 billion fund is to be created to reduce overall pollution causing factors. Major blow to COP was, United States withdraws from the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015.

REcycling

Thermoplastic, it the technique use of recycling and reusing plastic by remelting it. It also degrades the overall quality of plastic, hence it is used selectively.

The major problem in thermoplastics is plastic waste all around the world is mixed with the household and degradable waste. Plastic sorting machines can be used to sort still remains ineffective. Here, citizens plays major role in sorting plastic wastes. Citizens of Japan has did this part effectively with organized, educated population. It still remains a task for the developing nation like India with 1.2 billion of population.

India has initiated the International Solar Alliance with its headquarters  at Gurugram. Countries between tropic of Cancer and tropic of Capricorn are part of it. A mass alliance to use freely available solar energy to reduce pollution made by coal based thermal energy.

It is a need of the hour to take similar initiatives for plastics.

With the will of Government and citizens, India can do immense progress in saving its natural resources like air, water, land from the fears of plastic.

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