Put an Effective ban on use of Polythene Carry Bags

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One of the most common things in our modern world is the ubiquitous plastic grocery bag. Highly convenient, strong and inexpensive, plastic grocery bags are appealing to both customers and businesses as a reliable way to deliver goods from the store to home. However, there are several issues associated with the production, use, and disposal of plastic grocery bags which may not be initially apparent to most users, but which are nonetheless extremely important. By assessing the lifecycle of plastic grocery bags, we can better understand the full ecological footprint of the plastic bag, and find more effective means of dealing with the associated negative impacts. India’s plastic consumption is one of the highest in the world. Yet, precious little has been done to recycle, re-use and dispose of plastic wastes. People argue that there are much more serious issues to be tackled, like poverty, food scarcity, illiteracy and economic stability, in developing nations. But it is important that people understand the relationship between these issues and plastic waste, and how it will affect generations to come.

 Plastic bags are difficult and costly to recycle and most end up on landfill sites where they take around 300 years to photo degrade. They break down into tiny toxic particles that contaminate the soil and waterways and enter the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them. Hundreds of cows die in cities of India every year when they choke on plastic bags while trying to eat vegetable waste stuffed in the garbage.

 Some of the environmental impacts can be categorized as:

Diseases: Polythene  waste materials act as a breeding place for the various disease carriers like the deadly female anopheles mosquito that spreads malaria, they also rare germs like the cholera germ, which has led to the death of millions of people.

Again burning of these polythene garbage produces hazardous gases. Dioxin is produced during recycling of plastic, which results in different toxic effects to the public health, such as immune system disorder, cancer and reproductive problem etc..

Increased Soil Infertility: when the polythene bags enter into the soil, they block further passage of mineral salts and oxygen to the soil. These, if properly analysed are the main components that make up the soil fertility.

Blockage of Water Systems: Water systems like springs, ponds, rivers etc. are blocked during continued damping of these polythene materials along the shore, the water flow is affected and may be stopped causing floods, disease habitation and unpleasant scenery.

Impacts on Wildlife: Most distressing, over a billion seabirds and mammals die annually from ingestion of plastics. Plastic carry bags choke drains and get into the gut of cattle that gobble up food bundled in plastic bags in open areas. The impact of plastic bags does not end with the death of one animal; when a bird or mammal dies in such a manner and subsequently decomposes, the plastic bag will again be released into the environment to be ingested by another animal. Apart from the plastic completely choking the digestive system of the cow and causing excruciating pain to the animal, plastic residues enter the human food chain through dairy and animal products.

U. P. Government issued an order in December 2015 (No.3306 /55  - पर्या  - 15  - 27(पाया) /15  दिनांक   22.12.2015) to enforce the ban on use and manufacture of all kinds of plastic carry bags including, inter-alia, the carry bags made of non-woven fabrics. But,  absence of any drive by authorities against these bags are no deterrent to the manufacturers and dealers of these bags.

Conclusion: The use of polythene is not environment friendly. Medical reports find it as an agent of cancer, skin diseases and other health problems. The users are more exposed to these types of health hazards when polythene is used to pack bread, biscuits, potato chips or other food items, some of which may be carcinogenic. 

The historic decision for banning  polythene carry bags not only ensure environmental benefits for the country, it also provide a great opportunity for generation of more employment and alleviating poverty in rural areas. Laws and legislations should be put in place regarding the use of polythene bags. The people who are seen using the polythene bags even while moving should be penalized.           

 



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