Weekly Program on World Affairs


Is plastic ban a good decision? - Akanksha Mishra

Source: The Economic Times

Akanksha Mishra*
Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji brought the concept of banning single- use plastic and all of a sudden all the plastics disappeared from the market but only the carrying bags. What about the factory packaging? We still buy packed items like chips, biscuits, tea, etc. There is no proper implementation of the plan.

Basically single use plastic means the packet which can be used for once. It includes disposals, straws, wrappers etc. Industry gives a different definition. "We consider 100 per cent recyclable material with thickness greater than 50 microns and a minimum 20% recycled content as non-single use plastic," says an Amazon India spokesperson. That implies plastic below 50 microns with less than 20 per cent recycled content makes for single-use plastic.

There are many reasons behind banning plastics that are- they are non biodegradable. When it becomes litter, it pollutes water. Plastics are made of chemicals which harm marine life as some fishes swallow them that can lead to their death. Also, plastic bags clog the drains which could cause flooding of the street at the time of heavy rainfall. Discarded plastic bags collect rainwater and creates a breeding ground for mosquitos, some of which could carry the West Nile Virus or Triple E Virus. Plastic bags do not sit as well as either paper or cloth. They are very dangerous for animals, if they are not disposed properly. However bans on plastic bags cause an uptick in business for reusable bag manufacturers and lead to increased employment opportunities.

Groups of states are starting to enact regional policies. The East African Legislative Assembly has passed a bill to ban the manufacture, sale, import and use of certain plastic bags across its six member states, with a combined population of approximately 186 million people. And in October 2018 the European Union Parliament approved a ban on a number of single-use plastic items by 2021, along with a requirement to reduce plastic in food packaging by 25 percent by 2025 and cut plastic content in cigarette filters 80 percent by 2030.

On the other hand plastic bags were first invented to save the environment in order to protect trees but again we are disturbing the system by using jute or paper bags. It will lead into deforestation soon. Not only this, plastic bags have its benefits too. It is very durable, low of cost, water resistant,requires lesser energy and are light weight so they are easy to carry. Studies show that plastic bags have less net environmental effect than paper bags, requiring less energy to produce, transport and recycle; however these studies also note that recycling rates for plastic are significantly lower than for paper. Plastic carry bags are reused as trash bags or bin bags in many families. India’s plastic-processing industry has over 30,000 units and an annual turnover of Rs 2.25 lakh crore. So ban on plastic would also affect the livelihood of these company's employees. It may also lead to a decrease in nation's economy.

Globally also it would leave a big impact as there are many things that are exported in many parts of the world. They are packed in bubble wrap, plastics, etc. in order to protect. Paper packaging is not durable and will increase human effort and stress.

While listing the disadvantages of plastics, one problem was common and that was throwing non-biodegradable garbage openly. Before blaming the government and a non living thing which makes our work easier, we need to understand the cons of throwing garbage in open. It leads to many diseases and problems. But if there is no pastic thrown outside then there will be no problem. We should take the first step to save our planet. And rather than banning plastic, government should make proper disposal system so that it can be disposed without harming the earth.

*Writer is pursuing Masters in Journalism & Mass Communications at Galgotias University.