SYLLABUS SECTION: GS III (ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY)
WHY IN THE NEWS?
Recently, Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change announced, the ban on single-use plastic items.
- The Ministry of Environment, Forest& Climate Change had issued a gazette notification last year announcing the ban from July 1, 2022, and on June 20 it defined a list of items that will be banned.
What are the items being ban?
- Single-use plastics, known as throw away plastics, are manufacture to be use only once before being discard or recycle
- The ban applies to:
- plastic sticks used in ear buds;
- cigarette packs;
- plastic flags;
- candy and ice creams wraps;
- polystyrene (thermocol) used in decoration;
- balloons, plastic glasses,
- cutlery and trays;
- packaging or wrapping films around invitation cards;
- sweet boxes;
- plastic or polyvinylchloride banners lessthan100 microns;
- plastic stirrers.
Why is the ban being enforce?
- Combating pollution cause by single-use plastics has become a significant environmental concern for all nations.
- The detrimental effects of litter single-use plastic products on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, particularly on the marine environment, are acknowledge globally.
- Ingestion of single-use plastic can damage the reproductive organs, lungs, and the neurological system.
- An estimated150 million tonnes of plastic garbage are actually floating in our waters, harming species and altering the marine ecosystem.
- Therefore, by prohibiting these plastic items, the government can reduce plastic waste production
Single-Use Plastic and Health Hazards:
- It is challenging to recycle single-use plastic; hence, it has spread in the earth’s ecosystem and affected the human food chain.
- Exposure to microplastics impacts the human food chain.
- Inside the body, these tiny plastic particles may harm organs and be linked to significant health issues, including hormone-related malignancies, infertility, and neuro-develop mental disorders such as ADHD and autism
- Plastics degrade into microplastics after entering various ecosystems and these microplastics act as a platform for the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms
- Scientists have connected exposure to relatively low amounts of bisphenol (BPA) a chemical used in plastics to various health issues, including cancer, decreased immunological function, early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes and hyperactivity.
- Regular incineration of medical waste containing PVC and phthalates [a chemical added to plastics] raises public health issues due to the release of dioxins and mercury.
- Long-term exposure can lead to cancer, congenital impairments, hormonal abnormalities, decreased sperm counts, infertility, and immune damage
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO):
- Microplastic particles bigger than 150 micro-metres are unlikely to be absorbed by the human body, and absorption of smaller particles is anticipated to be restricted.
- The absorption and distribution of microscopic plastic particles in the nano size range may be more significant, despite the exceedingly little evidence available.
- Additional research is necessary to establish a more precise estimate of exposure to microplastics and their possible health effects on humans.
- These include the development of standard methods for measuring microplastic particles in water, more research on the origins and occurrence of microplastics in fresh water, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of various treatment processes.
What are the alternatives to such plastics?
Bio-based plastics or bioplastics are becoming increasingly prevalent. Bioplastics are manufactured in whole or in part from biological resources.
- Encourage reusable water bottles and tap water to replace bottled water.
- Promote bamboo or another reusable and edible cutlery.
- Replace plastic shopping bags with reusable cloth bags.
- Attach balloons with strings/holders.
- Promote a smoking ban. Until then, cigarette buds should have biodegradable cigarettes and filters.
- Natural fibres can be used for sponges and dish rags with scrubbers.
- Replace plastic cotton buds with bamboo or paper cotton buds that are disposable or go for reusable cotton buds.
- Use washable cloth diapers, diapers without plastic and biodegradable wet wipes.
- Use bamboo, paper, or metal straws to replace plastic straws. Further, we can promote edible straws such as pasta straws or rice straws.
Read more: UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS
SOURCE: INDIAN EXPRESS