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Plastics are considered to be a wonder material; its ease of use and sturdiness has surpassed many materials it is in competition with. Plastics plays a key role in every human activity, be it clothing, shelter, communication or transport. The time won’t be far when we will be called a plastics world.
Plastics has gained importance in the last 30-40 years and has a wide use; right from household commodities to process manufacturing. With the development rate of plastics achieving new statures, it has become a part of every individual’s life. However, it is essential for all of us consumers of plastics to realize that if plastics are so versatile and it doesn’t disintegrate and fall apart like natural products, it must be reused.

With plastics awareness being the major concern, it is littering and non-segregation which creates plastics waste. It is this apathy which citizens have which sadly gives rise to mistrust of plastics and a building disregard towards plastics is seen. In an initiative to decrease plastics waste, a recommendation by the Union Ministry of Environmental Forest (UMEF) resulted in a blanket ban on plastic bags of 50 micron across India. “Previously it was 30 microns, now it is 50 microns. UMEF felt that thin bags were not picked up, which caused litter and nuisance, and eventually became hazardous to the environment.
The states should not just be notified about the ban but, they should also implement it in a proper way. The states and the citizens together have to play a role in the enforcement of the 50 micron rule” said Mr. Vijay Merchant, member of the Indian Centre for Plastics in the Environment (ICPE).

“The disposal of packaging material that is not done properly, creates a negative impression of plastics”, said Mr. Akhilesh Bhargava, Chairman of the Environment Committee for the All India Plastics Manufacturers Association (AIPMA). “Responsible recycling of plastics is the only solution to the problem of us heading towards a plastics planet. You give, you adapt to the waste, it will get picked up, which will eventually bring it back to the framework,” he further added. Several innovative plastics recycling ideas which are being put in use are benefitting society. Half of all plastics becomes waste after four or lesser years of use. Satish Kumar, based out of Hyderabad, converts used plastics into reusable fuel. Since plastics can be recycled only four to five times, he recycles them into usable fuel, thereby contributing to clearing solid plastics waste from mother earth.

Pyrolysis Process

Prof. Rajagopalan Vasudevana, famously known as the ‘Plastics Man of India’ has utilized waste plastics by constructing high-quality concrete roads in 11 states across India. His effort has triggered the Tamil Nadu government to impose a mandate on using waste plastics for construction of roads. Vasudevana’s belief of not tossing plastics out on the road, but rather, building roads with plastics has set a case to other developing countries in the Asian region. In the US meanwhile, a wax worm has been found which is capable of eating plastics. Researchers suggest that 100 worms can eat 91 mg of plastic in 12 hours.

These are few of the many ideas that are lauded for ‘recycling of plastics’ in an environment-friendly way. The Tiruchi Corporation of Tamil Nadu is giving out a 1g gold coin each Wednesday, to those who hand over non-degradable waste to recyclers. These incentives serve as an encouragement to citizens and help in better understanding plastics. Recycling of plastics is not confined to this planet alone, but has reached space as well. NASA has recently put out a statement that it wants to turn human waste into usable products, plastics and vitamins. Hence, the next time astronauts go to answer nature’s call, they would be engaging in an act of creation of plastics.

Plastics as an inert material has incredible usage. On the other hand, it is also a crucial part of human life that has helped it grow enormously in the last 30-40 years. People dubbing plastics as a hazardous material is a misconception. For every one person who objects to plastics, there will be thousand others in support of it. Manufactures and users have to join hands in educating the mass about the virtues of plastics, its disposal, its conversion and eventually its benefit to the environment.

Indeed, with end number of initiatives seeing the light of day, the growing concern of our world heading towards a plastics planet can be shunned.

News Reporter : Pratiksha Karkera
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