Plastic – Boon or Bane

Did you know the very first plastics were produced by German chemists in the 19th century via a fermentation processes. Plastics are everywhere! Plastics are “one of the greatest innovations of the millennium. The fact that plastic is lightweight, does not rust or rot, helps lower transportation costs and conserves natural resources is the reason for which plastic has gained this much popularity. Plastics are everywhere and have innumerable uses! Plastics are durable, lightweight, and reusable. Also, the are used in packaging many goods. Did you know that if the Titanic was made of plastic, it might still be cruising around the world?

Below, I will discuss some of the countless number of ways that plastics change your life: * Plastic has replaced metals and glass as the primary material used. * Used in pillows and mattresses (cellular polyurethane or polyester) * Used in cars and hi-tech computers * They provide good insulation for the wiring and are durable in extreme weather conditions. * They provide as a good non-reactive medium as water pipes. * They are light weight and colourful. * Safe for children when they are food grade plastics. Ordinary plastics cause health hazards to humans when eaten in them. Handy as disposable bags, carry bags, wrapping paper, etc. “Plastic has benefited our society in a number of ways. In fact, plastic has helped in advancements in satellites, shuttles, aircraft, and missiles. As a result, civilian air travel has improved, as well as military air power and space exploration. In addition, the building and construction, electronics, packaging, and transportation industries have all benefited greatly from plastic. ” Did you know that researches are trying to make a television (made of plastic) that will roll up in your living room? Plastic – Health and Environmental Hazards

Although plastic has many positive influences in everyday lives, there have been instances when plastics have posed some health and environmental hazards. Most plastics do not pose any health or environmental hazards, but some monomers that are used in manufacturing plastics, have been proved to cause cancer. Even though recycling continues to reuse plastics, most plastics do not rot and cannot be reused. Unfortunately, this has become an environmental problem: Where will the plastic be disposed? But, many researchers hope to find a solution to this dilemma in the future.

When every plastic can be broken down, plastic will truly become the most useful product! Plastic – Bane * Non biodegradable. * Obstruct underground water percolation. * Microbes cannot destroy them. * Produce harmful gases when burnt. * Plastic bags thrown into the open drains and sewers clog them and cause stagnation of water, which in turn poses health hazards * Disposable syringes, drip bottles, blood and urine bags and other medical accessories when disposed off in an irresponsible manner, cause a lot of serious health problems. Animals sometimes feed on plastics and die painfully as plastic chokes their digestive and respiratory tracts. What we can do: Avoid using plastic bags for shopping. Avoid disposing plastic bags with organic wastes. Avoid using plastic chairs and tables. Plastic is made of crude oil. So lesser usage of plastic saves the crude oil. Plastic from Plants: Is It an Environmental Boon or Bane? Plant-based plastics are beginning to replace petroleum. But as the price drops and usage rises, will the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? Facts:- * More than 2. billion plastic bottles partially made from plants * PlantBottle from the Coca-Cola Co. is made by converting sugars from sugarcane farmed in Brazil into the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) * Most importantly from Coke’s point of view, none of the six

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other major varieties of plant-based plastic can keep the carbonation from leaking out. PLASTIC WASTE MANAGEMENT IN INDIA Plastic waste is recycled in India in an “unorganized” way. 60% of the plastic-waste collected and segregated gets recycled back into materials for further processing into consumer products, while the balance is left unutilized.

Regulations and legislations are being enforced in two States of India viz. Haryana and Himachal pradesh, while a National Plastic Waste Management Council Task Force has been set up by the Government of India, Ministry of Environment of Forests, with the association of Department of Petroleum and Chemicals, Ministry of Urban Affairs, Municipal Corporation of Delhi and various groups/associations of plastic manufacturers. Scope is there for the recycling/management of plastic waste, as an `organised activity’ in India

Municipal solid waste in India contain 1-4 per cent by weight of plastic waste. India’s rate of recycling of plastic waste is the highest (60%) in the world as compared to other countries (China 10%, Europe 7%, Japan 12%, South Africa 16%, USA 10%). As a source of hazard to environment, plastic account for 16% of chlorine in the environment and have 54 carcinogens, polythene bags for disposal if burnt irresponsibly releases highly toxic gases like phosgene, carbon monoxide, chlorine, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, besides deadly dioxin.

Polymers are gradually replacing natural materials like metal, timber and fibres and thereby conserving the natural environment. Polymers are now finding diversified uses through blends and alloys and giving higher standards of performance and life cycles to various products. Plastics waste forms a wide range. Predominantly it is film packaging and polythene carry bags, followed by blow moulded containers, and broken and discarded moulded items. POLICY MEASURES IN INDIA Various policy measures are being taken to check the nuisance caused by plastic waste in India, through there is no definite policy and legislation ramed in respect of mitigating the plastic waste in the country. These are – Regulations and legislation: (a) Until recently there has been no definite environmental policy and legislation framed in respect of plastic waste in India. The plastics waste gets generated, collected, traded, and reprocessed by known methods into useful products, thereby supplementing supply3 of raw materials, and at economic price. However, a HP Non-biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act, 1995, has been introduced by the Government of Himachal Pradesh.

The Act appropriately envisages prohibition of throwing or depositing plastic articles in public places and to facilitate the collection through garbage in identifiable and marked garbage receptacles for non-biodegradables, placed at convenient places. Haryana State has announced a Bill (1997) on Non-biodegradable Garbage on similar lines as that of Himachal Pradesh. The National Plastics Waste Management Task Force of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has recommended a strategy and action programme of Plastics Waste Management in India. b) Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India have issued criteria for labeling `plastic products’ as `Environmental Friendly’ under its `Ecomark’ Scheme, in association with the Bureau of Indian Standards. One of the requirements for plastic products, is that the material used for packaging shall be recyclable or biodegradable. (c) The Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi (BIS) has issued guidelines on recycling of plastics waste including code of practices for collection, sorting through conventional practices continue to be adopted and accepted, need has been voiced to upgrade these, both by the authorities and NGOs.

However, while formulating Indian standard specifications for various plastic products, used for critical applications like plastic piping system, water-storage tanks, packaging for food articles, a clause is included which reads “no recycled plastics waste shall be used”. An exercise has also been carried out by the Ministry of Environment and Forest in association with Bureau of Indian Standards to include use of recycled plastic waste wherever appropriate in the manufacture of plastic products and this should be specified accordingly in the relevant Indian Specifications. (d) The

Prevention of Food Adulteration Department of the Government of India, has issued directives to various catering establishments to use only food-grade plastics, while selling or serving food items. Rules have specified use of `foodgrade’ plastic, which meets certain essential requirements and is considered safe, when in contact with food. The intention is to check possible contamination, and to avert the danger from use of recycled plastic. The Scheme announced in February, 1995 is being implemented in cooperation with Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) which has formulated a series of standards on this subject.

The Bureau of Indian Standards Sub-committee PCD 12. 17 is charged with formulating guidelines, codes and specifications for recycling of plastics. Two documents, viz. , “Guidelines for Recycling of Plastics “ and `Recycled Plastics for Manufacture of Products, Designation’ have been finalised. (e) The Central Pollution Control Board, New Delhi had assigned a study on “Status of Waste Plastics Recycling in NCR Delhi” to Shri Ram Institute for Industrial Research Delhi.

Among the conclusions of this study, the following deserve particular mention: – There is need to formulate and enforce code of good practice both for the processor and the consumer. In particular, standards need to be laid down for products from various plastics waste including the co-mingled one. – Directives should be imposed for a periodic air quality and health/hygienic check in the reprocessing units. (f) During September 1996, (and earlier during September, 1994) a National Conference on `Plastics and Environment’ was organised at New Delhi, by FICCI and Plast India Foundation.

It was during the Conference that the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India announced the setting up of National Plastics Waste Management Task Force, with representations of Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Ministry of Urban Affairs, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Plast India Foundation, The All India Plastics Manufacturers Association, All India Federation of Plastics Industry, NOCIL, IPCL, and experts from BMTPC, FICCI and CII.

The Task Force has submitted its report (August 1997) and drawn Strategy and Action Programmed for Plastics Waste Management in India. (g) A National Association of PET industry has recently been formed by PET manufacturers and users in India which is expected to look after the organized collection and recycling of PET bottles/containers waste. CONCLUSION: Plastic Waste Management has assumed great significance in view of the urbanization activities.

Plastic waste generated by the polymer manufacturers at the production, extrusion, quality control ; lab. Testing etc. , stages, as well as, by the consumers require urgent disposal and recycling to avoid health hazards. Various strategies are being devised to mitigate the impact of plastic waste in India. Banning plastic bags oversteps the role of government The Huntington Beach City Council voted 4-3 on Oct. 4 to authorize an environmental impact report on the possible effects of banning plastic grocery bags in the city.

The study is the next step in the council’s ill-advised crusade to eradicate single-use plastic grocery bags from within city limits and impose a fee of 10 cents per bag on shoppers who opt for paper bags from merchants. The proposed ban would be unwise, invasive and overreaching public policy because it attempts to use the coercive means of government to alter behavior and because it imposes a new fee on shoppers in Huntington Beach — the equivalent of a new tax. Residents of Surf City should be offended.

Technically non-partisan Mayor Joe Carchio and council members Don Hansen and Matthew Harper voted against the proposal; all three are Republican, though the council is technically nonpartisan. Council members Connie Boardman, Keith Bohr, Joe Shaw and Devin Dwyer voted to move forward with authorizing the EIR. We find it peculiar that Mr. Dwyer would vote for such a policy, given that he describes himself as a conservative Republican. The council selected Rincon Consulting to conduct the study, which will cost nearly $30,000.

The city will front the money for the report, but it is to be eventually borne by local environmental groups. The city will also pay an additional $10,000 in printing and copying costs for the study. Legislating personal behavior This second vote brings the council closer to making a bag ban a reality. But before proceeding, council members supporting the proposed ordinance ought to reconsider and ponder several questions: Is there sufficient evidence to suggest plastic bags actually have a significant impact on the environment compared with socalled reusable bags?

Is it the role of the local city council to legislate personal behaviors and purchasing choices? Is it fiscally prudent to impose a paper-bag fee on residents? The Huntington Beach council majority is pursuing a reckless policy that will have a negative economic impact on the community and be a blow to the individual liberties of residents. Voters ought to reach out to City Hall, and, if that does not work, hold the council members who support the bag ban accountable at the ballot box.

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