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Misconceptions about Plastics, Human Behaviour and Pollution

Owing to many concerns and opinions regarding plastics, various ideas are being followed by poor policy decision-makers who are imposing ban on plastics. Decisions are sometimes made without proper consultation and consideration for alternative options and replacement solutions. There is a serious need for independent organisations to review standards and factual information that influences policy. It is very important for the authorities and the industry to understand that education is required at all levels.

The benefits, usage and sustainable use of the miracle product, plastics must be taught in schools to make children aware of how polymer materials help in various ways. It helps in reducing our carbon foot print, boosting the sunrise industry,-

and increasing food production and its longevity. The weight reduction in materials, transportation with new polymer technologies and the composite materials help in reducing the resources of our planet as well as the adverse causes of pollution.

The poor management of plastic waste, and the lack of investment in infrastructure portray plastics as a nuisance. The sunrise industry, its manufacturers and the stake holders agree on the need for some common policy and understanding that is long overdue.

Plastics have been brought under huge scrutiny in the recent times with many NGOs and movements imparting their half-baked ideas about how plastic is destroying our planet. Recently, in India, a ban has been imposed on plastic carrier bags under 50 microns. While not understanding the perils or the adverse impact of alternative non-petro based products, policies are driven towards unethical and unsustainable forms of imported compostable plastic blends. These blends further add to the pollution issue and will have a negative impact on the recycle industry.

At the beginning of this year, China announced the banning of import of certain plastics waste from developed countries including the US, UK and Japan. This measure was introduced to reduce the contaminated waste that ends up in the country’s landfills.

It was reported from Davos in 2017 that in 20-30 years there will be more plastic fished out of the oceans than fish. The Lancet Report in October 2017 claims pollution has a more drastic impact and worse consequences to an economy than war. Governments all across the world are striving to come out with a common strategy for the betterment of the environment.

Global issues
Littering is a persistent problem, especially in developing countries, where there is a severe lack of investment in education, infrastructure, segregation, collection systems, and recycling for the masses. On the other hand, plastic waste in the oceans has been blamed as one of the major global issues. This issue originated predominantly from developing countries, where there is often and sometimes a total lack of waste management or service provision. A high production percentage of flexible packaging is manufactured in developing countries for economic reasons. Products are further shipped for use in most developed countries and returned to their place of origin after use. In 2013, the UK authorities admitted that almost 60% of the plastic wastes was not being recycled but shipped back to China, India and Indonesia.

Food security and solutions
One of the biggest challenges in today’s scenario is the ever-increasing global population and the solution to sustain the growth. An estimated growth of 2 billion is projected in the next 25 years. The increased demand for water and food can only be met by using polymer technologies in the agricultural and horticultural sectors.

Going plastic-free without better alternative materials is a foolish thing to do. More people will potentially suffer if we get rid of plastics. Health, medicine, higher transport emissions with dramatic increase in output, and food safety would witness a rapid decline, higher inflation costs and increased levels of pollution.

On the other hand, current blends of bio- and fossil based bioplastic solutions cannot serve as an alternative to the wonder material. Lack of sustainability, functioning of the material, cost and possible contamination in the recycling stream are some of the flaws of bioplastics blends.

There is an immediate need to cater to the three Rs, reduce, reuse and recycle to have a solution to the existing problems. Biodegradability and conversion into biomass in the natural environment, not composting facilities, can clear the misconception people have against plastics.

Chief Reporter : Sanchari Banerjee
Email : sanchari.banerjee@polymerupdate.com
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