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Wage a war on plastic

Wage a war on plastic
Highlights

It’s time for all of us to wake up and take speedy and effective measures to get rid of the menace of plastic which entered our lives about 100 years back and is now threatening environment. Governments have to promote alternative materials and help change human behaviour concerning plastics.

It’s time for all of us to wake up and take speedy and effective measures to get rid of the menace of plastic which entered our lives about 100 years back and is now threatening environment. Governments have to promote alternative materials and help change human behaviour concerning plastics.

Mere sloganeering and spelling out ‘Man ki baat’ won’t suffice. Let there be ‘Jan ki baat’ on this issue assuming dreadful proportions. You know, prolonged use of various plastics has been found to cause – hold your breath – as many as 23 types of cancer.

Telangana IT Minister K T Rama Rao has fixed 2022 as the deadline for making Hyderabad plastic-free. But it would have been better had he spelt out his a clear strategy to achieve the same. It can be done. If smaller countries like Rwanda could eliminate use of plastic, why can’t progressive Telugu states like Telangana and Andhra Pradesh set themselves such targets? Earnest measures to achieve tangible goals should be taken up on a war-footing.

The two Telugu states which claim to be ahead of other states on various issues should lead them in eliminating the plastic scourge from amongst us. Chandigarh is stealing a march already – it has banned use of disposable plastic bottles. Political class, officials and civil society, all have a role to play in stalling degradation of environment and preserving for posterity. To start with, single-use plastics such as straws, bottles, glasses etc., must be done away with.

Each year, especially on June 5 World Environment Day, governments announce lofty goals and best intentions. Well, they are not followed up with sound execution. A movement needs to be built against use of plastics and it shall not allowed to lose momentum. A massive campaign is needed to educate people about health and other risks associated with plastics, and the dangers to both mankind and animal world, pollution of all water sources including oceans.

The central and the state governments must heed warnings as well as advice of experts; they must emulate nations like Rwanda which had banned plastic bags as far back in 2008. Anyone found using or smuggling plastic bags is heavily penalised and, in some cases, may face a jail term in that country. This has given tremendous results. Sweden has officially run out of trash and is asking other countries for their garbage to keep its recycling plants running. Following the mantra of ‘No Plastic Ban, Instead More Plastic Recycling,' Sweden burns most of its waste in incinerators.

To commercially discourage citizens, our big neighbour China imposed a fee on plastic bags in 2008 making it illegal for stores to give out plastic bags for free. Two years on, the country's usage of plastic bags has dropped by a whopping 50%. By eliminating nearly 100 billion plastic bags, China has been successful in reducing its plastic waste generation. We all should try and select items that come in non-plastic, recycled and recyclable packaging, and do our best to properly handle the items that can’t be reused.

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