Multi-dimensional threats from plastic  

| Updated: July 06, 2022 22:06:55

File photo used for representational image File photo used for representational image

Even the threats posed by imaginary invasions by aliens from exo-planetary origins as depicted in science fictions and Sci-Fi movies pale before the havoc plastic is set to wreak on the human race. But the modern civilisation seems to prefer convenience to environmental and ecological sustainability. Surprisingly, both world leaders and common citizens almost the world over are pretending to be unaware of the grave danger they are encountering on account of the increasing production, use and deposit of plastic on lands, in inland water bodies and even in oceans. In reality, the present civilisation has created a Frankenstein that may end up annihilating its creators.  

So far a layman's understanding of the threat has been limited to polythene bags and plastic containers, utensils and furniture. But the condiments and toiletries commercially distributed through plastic sachets in various forms mostly remain out of sight. Thanks to Environment and Social Development Organisation (ESDO), people will be surprised to know that such small multi-layered plastic pouches have already been responsible for limitless degradation of the soil, water bodies and the environment of Bangladesh, a geographically small country. According to a study carried out by the ESDO, this small nation annually produces plastic-sachet waste to the tune of 192.4 million kilogram. Of these, food and cooking stuffs have a share of 47 per cent and cosmetic and toiletries 31 per cent.  

Clearly, convenience and commercial considerations have found a meeting point in spurring the production and use of items that the previous generation either did not use or if used, did so in a different way without help from plastic. Of course, there were inconveniences but when the existence of nations and the human race can be at stake, convenience should not always get the better of environmental considerations. Understandably, pharmaceutical use of plastic sachets cannot possibly be avoided but there is no point encouraging use of single-use one-time plastic containers. Not long ago, banana and shal leaves were used for such purposes. Even if it is not possible to revert to the old ways, alternatives to plastic sachets and containers can be found out and recycling prioritised. Already, paper glass and cups have been in use widely in some countries, including India which, moreover, has gone, as the chairperson of ESDO informs, for slapping a ban on plastic sachet from July 1 last.  

If India, a large country, can adopt such a drastic measure to contain environmental pollution, so can Bangladesh. More so when this country was the first in the world to ban polythene bags and reaped some positive results initially is a good precedence. If the country did not let go the tight leash subsequently, this country would have been in an enviably sound position so far as environmental pollution from plastic is concerned. It is time the rampant use of polythene bags in markets were contained with an iron hand. The law is still there; only its enforcement is what is of urgent need. As for limiting the use of other kinds of plastic, a national policy ought to be formulated with an emphasis on environmental protection. 

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