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World Environment Day: What you can do to limit your plastic footprint

Jun 02, 2023

What can individuals do to stop the ever-growing menace of non-degradable plastic that has amplified into an epidemic now?

The UNEP is celebrating World Environment Day today (June 5) with the theme, ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’, which was the global body's focus in 2018 as well. Five years later, the UN has revived the same theme because plastic pollution has amplified and become a severe epidemic.

From the 1950 till the 1970s, a small amount of plastic was produced and was relatively manageable but by the 1990s, it had more than tripled. Since the 2000s, plastic waste has burgeoned and today, humans currently produce about 400 million metric tons of plastic waste per year. In India, only 30 per cent of the 3.4 million tonnes annually that gets generated get recycled and the rest is dispatched to landfills or aquatic dumps.

What is pertinent is that according to UNEP, almost 50 per cent of the plastics used is in the form of packaging material globally.

The use-and-throw nature of many kinds of non-degradable plastic products, which are only capable of becoming ever smaller particles, explains why beating plastic pollution has become such an insurmountable challenge for the world.

Think about it – there are one million plastic bottles are purchased every day and 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In short, half of all plastic produced is designed for single-use purposes – just to be used once and then discarded. Single-use plastics create the maximum carbon footprint, with 98 per cent of these are produced from "virgin" feedstock, that is, from polluting fossil fuels and not from the ones already produced.

Also read: Centre approves proposal to transform plastic waste into flower pots in Bengal's hills

It is actually cheaper to just make a new plastic product than to collect it and recycle it or reuse it. The recycling capacity of plastic remains woefully inadequate if not marginal. Right now, individuals can do their share to keep their environment healthy and plastic free.

Adopt new habits to limit your plastic footprint

Also read: As single-use plastic ban kicks off, this Gujarat cafe offers food for plastic waste

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