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Plastic Alert

Friday, April 13, 2018

Before stuffing your home with different styles, colours and shapes of plastic bags, have you ever considered the dangers that are inherent in using them? If your answer is no, please read further. Plastic bags have been known to cause a lot of environmental damage. A single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to decay completely. This makes the bags stay in the environment longer, in turn leading to a great build-up on the natural landscape (much more than degradable materials like paper). In other words, the more plastic bags you use, the greater the chances of environmental damage. Plastic bags not only have adverse effects on our natural habitats, but have also been found to be responsible for the death of many animals, mainly on account of the suffocation encountered on eating them. Not only animals, but even infants and young children have been reported to have lost their lives on account of eating plastic bags. Since plastic bags are thin and airtight, children often end up blocking their mouths and nostrils with them. In case they are not being monitored by an adult, this leads to suffocation, and in some cases, even death. Plastic bags have led to a great increase in the pollution levels. This air when inhaled, leads to a number of diseases, especially respiratory. Also, the meal eaten or heated in plastic bags or containers causes certain cancerous diseases, ulcers, asthma and obesity because certain chemicals of the plastic bags or containers mix with the meal upon heating. They not only harm our immune system but also put a negative effect on our brains. Since plastic bags are not biodegradable, the only way to get rid of them is to burn them up. Though lighting a match to them is easy, it has more than its fair share of disadvantages. The biggest of them is that smoldering plastics can release toxic fumes into the environment, in turn taking the air pollution to much higher levels. One of the main disadvantages of plastic bags is that they are not renewable. The reason behind this is that they are made of petrochemicals, a non-renewable source of energy. They can be recycled, but not as easily as paper bags. Plastic bags can last for as much as hundreds of years. In other words, long after you are no more, the plastic bag used by you will still be in existence.
— Jubel D’Cruz, Mumbai

Maharashtra Government's move to ban plastic containers and boards is a right step in the right direction. We should ban the manufacture of plastic carry bags, etc. More than 20 per cent of our municipal waste contains these plastic carry bags, cups, plates etc. We all know the harmful effects of plastic carry bags. Everyone, from the common man to people in power consider that plastic carry bags should be banned. You cannot ban their use unless you ban their manufacture. You can ask such production units to manufacture other plastic products by encouraging them with finance and technical know how. This will largely reduce the risks of plastic waste, save costs of handling and transportation of such waste and solve 50 per cent of our waste problem. It is reliably understood that after the bag ban, restriction is likely to begin immediately and the government wants the drastic measure on plastic ban a success in the years to come. It will be a boon if the implementation is done in a phased manner with an urgency to tackle the issue in time tested measures. We can ensure less clogging of drainage system and less number of workers to clear the debris during this monsoon season.
— M.R. Jayanthy, Sion

The civic body takes all remedial measures and fine-tunes the law to put government's plastic ban in order. It is quite challenging and a welcome move. Some of the states like Kerala have taken up the task of banning plastic and succeeded. In the first phase, the ban is likely to start from 100 municipal markets and slowly spread to other places as well. Again, it is a welcome initiative to allow women self-help groups to be allotted space in the market to sell cloth as well paper bags.  This will help out to do away with plastic bags and give the self-help groups to boost their small scale business to better heights. Recycling plants established will see that that the banned plastic bags gets useful shape in the days to come. Presently plastic bags, thermocol, dishes, cups, plates, glasses, forks, bowls, spoon, straws and pouches are banned to make way for a go green beginning.
— C. Subramaniam, Kharghar

It is right step in the right direction to put a blanket ban on plastic bags in malls. Air pollution causes innumerable health hazards. Several studies have documented the relationship between contaminated air and health problems. Sudden respiratory distress, difficulty in breathing, respiratory cancer, lung cancer, asthma, acute bronchitis, coughs, eye irritations and general malaise have all been found to be associated with polluted air. Apart from the health costs, air pollution corrodes buildings and industrial materials. Combined with the moisture are a number of components of pollution from various kinds of acids attached to building materials. Steel deteriorates two or four times faster in a polluted environment, as well as silver, leather and paper. Shrubs, trees, grass, vegetables, parks and fruit trees are also harmed. Of late, the plastic menace had taken the country by storm, so plastic free zones were created. But the response is not so encouraging and the public turned to plastic bags despite caution from the state and Central Governments. By banning plastic bags, we try our best to combat plastic menace.
— Abhishek Ramaswamy, Vashi

The delay in enforcing plastic ban is not an encouraging sign. However, better late than never in introducing the ban. It is an effective way of preventing drainage clogging during monsoon season.  Mumbai suffers because of plastic menace and the flooding on busy roads cause traffic jams due to clogging of drainage during the monsoon season. Better sense should prevail as stagnant water is a health hazard during the monsoon. It is appreciable that all types of plastic bags, irrespective of their thickness is banned and it is a great news. Again, single use of plastic items, including disposable plates, food containers, cutlery, etc which form the main thing in clogging the drainage system in the metro, received the ban order. Further, water bottles of less than 500 ml also received the ban as they are thrown anywhere and everywhere, and that causes the main hindrance. It is also notable that the government has given a one month notice and further extension need not be given as this is a very sensitive issue. Now it is left to eateries to dispose off banned plastic items once for all and look for an alternative. In the wake of plastic ban, the eateries may charge more on food packets packed through modern method during their door to door services and may cost the consumer more. Anyway, it is better late than never and the Mumbaikars will realise the importance in a sensible way and act accordingly.
— C.K. Subramaniam, Sanpada

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