Ban of Plastics: A Step in a Revolution
In countries across the world, rapid urbanisation and growth in the population pose major challenges with regard to the increase in plastic pollution. And nowadays, thousands of industries are producing plastics, where they make use of toxic materials for producing, and those plastics are used by people during shopping or at any time as it is more convenient and comfortable to use.
There is a change in the global environment on a daily basis, as countries worldwide seek to develop their countries without taking into account; the impacts that are caused. Some countries are taking actions, especially in business sectors, to minimise the use of plastics as they damage agricultural lands and the environment by causing land pollution, marine pollution, etc.
Many nations have their own solutions to this, which are imposed on the public by levying taxes or implementing restrictions on plastics. Therefore, I'd want to use this blog to highlight the reasons for banning plastics and the efforts that many countries around the world have made to decrease their plastic usage.
Here, we will see the reasons why countries are banning plastics:
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), up to five trillion plastics are used each year, with over one million animals and birds, such as fish and sea turtles, being harmed when they consume plastic products. This disturbs the normal functioning of their digestive systems, and this strangles marine life. It also offers a breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and this spreads disease and plastics that contain harmful substances such as estrogen, which cause harmonic imbalances and affect the contemporary lives of human beings. Considering the effects, over 77 countries have passed full or partial bans on plastics, and around 32 countries, instead of banning, have opted to levy taxes to limit the use of plastics.
As of now, we will look into the reasons of countries that have banned plastics. In 2002, considering plastic’s harmful effects, Bangladesh was the first country to impose a ban on thinner plastics. The purpose of banning and distributing single-use plastic in New York is to reduce greenhouse emissions that are caused by it. Kenya implemented a plastic bag ban in 2017, which has since been termed the "world's strictest" ban. This was implemented to tackle extreme floods due to plastic bags that were clogging up streams and drains.
Let’s see, how some countries have banned plastics products?
- When we talk about Canada, this country has banned the use of harmful single-use plastics and has imposed a ban on microbead products.
- Antigua and Barbuda, an island nation, banned the use of plastic cups, straws, and plates and enforced strict penalties on those who use these products.
- France was the first country to prohibit the use of plates, plastic cups, and utensils and strongly emphasised to use of biodegradable products in production. Multiple cities in the United States have banned single-use plastic, which includes San Francisco and Seattle.
- As Morocco is the second-largest country to consume plastics, the government has tightened the prohibition on plastic bags and increased the punishment for violating them.
- Rwanda was the first country to ban the import, production, use, and sale of plastic bags, imposing strict regulations such as fines or jail sentences. Plastic bags are no longer allowed at major supermarkets in South Korea.
And these countries strictly recommend people to use environmentally friendly bags such as jute bags, which are the best alternatives and compostable too, bio-degradable plastic bags, which are less harmful when compared to plastic bags, and paper bags, which can be recycled easily. These countries' governments and non-governmental organisations are organising national conferences to address the long-term and short-term negative impacts of plastics, as well as to plan for short-term and long-term goals and they are also using social media, radio, and television to address the economic and social effects of plastics.
The way forward:
In India, the use of polythene bags with a thickness of less than 50 microns is prohibited throughout the country, and further, it was said that the distribution, production, sale, and import of single-use plastics (Polystyrene) may be prohibited in the future.
It is to be learned for us, from the above-mentioned countries and their restrictionsthat, it is not enough to ban plastics alone; a country must also take steps and other initiatives to minimise plastic usage by encouraging people to use biodegradable alternatives such as cloth, jute, or paper bags, which are less damaging to the environment, and the government must invest and must prioritize in development and research on the recyclability of plastic.
Still, it is a long way for a country like India to fight against plastic, marine, land, and air pollution. And it is high time to segregate and recycle the domestic plastic waste by the process of downcycling, which involves the turning of high-quality plastics into low-quality plastics.
To conclude, there is no doubt that plastics are causing irreparable damage to the environment, including air, soil, and water, and that waste leakage into the environment, as well as plastic into our oceans, must be controlled. Each country must choose how this can be accomplished, in part, based on its own set of circumstances.
Plastics are also a concern for local community livelihoods and national governments, both in terms of causing potential loss as well as the high expense of cleaning up that fall on state and national governments.
As a result, the governments of all countries must levy taxes on supermarkets or any retail store that distributes plastic shopping bags, as well as enact laws on importers, manufacturers, and the general public to recycle plastic bags. The government must also take initiatives through the media and raise public awareness. And we the people must act accordingly to the rules and regulations that are enforced by the government.