Zero-waste should be our mission
Somewhere along the path to development, we have moved away from the natural way of living. Plastics are now littering shorelines and plastic waste is choking drains in cities causing them to overflow and making them a breeding ground for diseases. Our rivers and ecosystems are turning into dumping grounds. The problem is not limited just to India but is global in dimension. Plastic peril can be countered if efforts are made by all, including individuals and institutions. Our world will become a better place to live in. We must also realise that if used wisely, plastic is a miracle material because of its use in hospitals for sterile packaging that saves countless lives. However, plastic materials that are used to make myriad products are not biodegradable. Our obsession with plastic, coupled with over-consumption, use-and-throw culture and littering creates a hazardous environment for animals, marine life and human beings. It is time to recognise and accept the cause of this. It is not plastic that is the problem, but what we do with it. As a consumer, we can exercise some restraint like refusing unnecessary single-use plastics such as straws, thin carry bags, cups and plastic bottles etc. Whatever we use, we must use many times over, zero-waste must be our mission. India needs to lead in recycling and innovation, thus finding solutions to the world’s plastic problem.
Take strict action against violators
Yes, it is certainly time for the government to take steps to ensure a ban on single-use plastic. Why does our government fail to take concrete action on things which it advertises to have done after being voted to power? It is pure hypocrisy on the part of our politicians that they spend too much time on advertising about development works and other things done by them after coming to power which they say were not done by leaders of other political parties before. But the harsh fact is that leaders of all political parties indulge in propaganda and boast of things done by them which in reality have not even been enforced. The government should not lack the will power to implement a complete ban on single-use plastic. It should not only impose a huge fine on violators but take swift action by putting the violators behind bars for at least three months. It should first identify all areas where people are using plastic items, then conduct raids, nab the violators and thereafter put them behind bars and impose fines on them. The only remedy lies in the government taking strict action against the violators to ensure a successful ban on single-use plastic.
Ensure responsible disposal of plastic
Plastic, the 20th century discovery previously called Bakelite, was mainly used in electrical switches, sockets and other fixtures because of its property of being a good insulator. Later on, however, it almost replaced steel and aluminium and now there is hardly anything around which is not made of plastic, whether it is furniture, doors, windows, refrigerators, TVs, computers, containers of all sorts, crockery, cutlery, pens, tooth brushes etc. Add to it packaging which is a modern tool to market whatever is produced. Milk and milk products and all commodities are sold in plastic packs. The online delivery system makes innovative use of this light and strong material. The problem is compounded when the customer’s purchase is further packed in a plastic bag of thin sheet. This is the plastic that chokes our drains, sewer pipes and water bodies because the bigger, solid pieces now find their way to recycling factories. Sincere and concerted efforts still need to be made to meet this challenge. Manufacturing of thin sheets should be stopped altogether. People should avoid buying packed water bottles and instead use refillable bottles, a popular practice among most students. The use of disposable plates and cups and other single-use plastic items should be stopped. Sale of loose milk at authorised centres should be promoted. In fact, we should buy commodities loose or in bulk in order to discourage ease of buying in packs. Besides, strong cotton bags should be kept handy in our scooters and we should say goodbye to plastic bags. At the municipal level, it is a great challenge to collect, transport and dispose of 700 tonnes of garbage in Amritsar daily. The project to ensure separating of plastic at the domestic level should now be put into practice, whatever be the cost. If we can’t help buying plastic products, at least their proper disposal after use must be our responsibility. It is time now that irresponsible disposal is penalised.
Prof Mohan Singh
Plastic a huge threat to future generations
Today, the spread of diseases like malaria and dengue is mostly because of plastic use. Sometimes water pipes get blocked with plastic and mosquitoes breed due to stagnant water. We all know that only 9% plastic can be recycled on the earth. The government should therefore impose a ban on plastic. The Punjab government should keep dustbins in every village, so that every person considers it his duty to put that plastic in the dustbin. If anyone does not use these dustbins and throws away plastic elsewhere, he should be made to pay a heavy fine. If you do not reduce the use of plastic, it can become a huge threat to the future generations.
Subhkarman Kaur Sarchur
Raise awareness on its harmful effects
No doubt, plastic is a necessary evil. It is both useful as well as harmful. The government has banned single-use plastic as it is used in bulk in our daily life. Regular plastic takes quite a long time, may be decades, to decompose and one would be appalled to know the colossal amount of plastic being used by us. So much dependence on single-use plastic does not augur well for humans and the environment. To raise awareness about the harmful effects of single-use plastic in Punjab, several campaigns have been conducted. Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann led a state-level campaign on August 5 last year to raise awareness about the environmental impact of single-use plastic. The Punjab Pollution Control Board also conducted an awareness campaign in the main markets of Patiala city to discourage the use of single-use plastic items. Additionally, the Punjab Government announced a ban on single-use plastic on World Environment Day (2022). Despite the numerous awareness campaigns, a large section of the public continues to use plastic items unsparingly, polluting the environment. Many environmental organisations, such as the Naroa Punjab Manch, Public Action Committee (PAC), Action Group Against Plastic Pollution (AGAPP) and residents staged a protest against plastic pollution in Sidhwa canal near Gill Bridge, urging the state government to ensure strict implementation of the ban on single-use plastic. The reason behind river pollution is primarily disposal of single-use plastic after its usage. This kind of plastic is extremely harmful for the environment. It also harms marine life of Punjab rivers as this type of pollution has devastating effects on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The plastic waste injures or kills wildlife either from being tangled or through ingestion. Despite being well aware of its negative effects, people do not avoid it. Some steps, such as enforcing penalties on those who violate the ban and not opting for recycled plastic, must be taken. How about creating an app in which the public click a picture of them cleaning roads and putting the trash into the four different bins provided by the MC and earn points which they can redeem while shopping or in the form of gift cards. This can motivate people in general to stop using it and keep their surroundings free from plastic waste.
Shun all plastics to save environment
Plastic is very bad for people. It is undesirable as it causes cancer. It should have been stopped much earlier. Some environmentally friendly bags and buckets must be used in place of plastic. Even when the plastic is burnt, it exudes carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide (CO2, CO, H2S). All these are very harmful for human beings as well as vegetation. The more the use of plastic, the more the amount that ends up in the drains. The groundwater and water bodies all have been polluted by plastic debris. It is just now that it is being exposed. Many previous governments did not make serious efforts to ban plastic burning. Not only plastic, even polythene bags should be discarded. When animals, particularly cows and other quadrupeds, consume polythene bags along with eatables, which people throw by the roadside and in streets, these plastic bags get stuck in their intestines, sometimes leading to their death. These should be stopped and in their place only paper bags made of newspapers and old note books should be used for packing eatables. Hope this government will do the needful at the earliest.
Dr J S Wadhwa
The remedy lies in taking strict action
On July 5, the state government decided to implement the ban imposed by Union Government on the manufacturing, stocking, distribution and sale of items of single-use plastics. As per the orders, a number of plastic goods were to be withdrawn from the markets, but the ground reality is entirely different. Even after three months of the ban, plastic items are still being sold openly without any fear of the law. Bags, envelopes, containers, etc, made of plastics can be seen lying scattered with domestic garbage everywhere. During the rains, they block drains and get deposited into ponds. Besides, plastic items and stagnant water become a breeding ground for malarial larvae and other diseases. Despite claims of repeated drives, the government action seems to be lacking in effectiveness. The ban on single-use plastic cannot be implemented without strict action. A drive by the administration involving all households, NGOs and civic societies must be conducted, otherwise the ban will be a mere mockery. The need of the hour is to adopt technology and scientific ways for proper management of solid waste and sewerage disposal. The ban on plastics, if strictly implemented, will go a long way in protecting the environment.
Nirmaljit Singh Chatrath
It’s time to encourage eco-friendly practices
Certainly, it is time for the state government to take serious steps to ban single-use plastic to prevent the polluting of water bodies and environmental degradation. This can be achieved by fixing a clear-cut deadline along with enacting laws that prohibit the manufacture, import, sale and use of single-use plastic items such as straws, ear buds, plates, cutlery, cups etc. Such a ban has already been implemented in India since July 1, 2022, and has encouraged the reuse of plastic carry bags by increasing their thickness up to 120 microns while discouraging littering. The extended “producer responsibility policy” has made the producers, importers and brand owners accountable for collecting and managing the plastic waste generated by their products. However, the administration lacks the willpower to implement laws owing to political compulsions. A control room needs to be set up to monitor and enforce such bans regularly. Individuals and businesses should be motivated through public awareness campaigns to switch over to biodegradable compostable or recyclable materials like bamboo, jute, paper straws, cloth bags etc. They should be encouraged to adopt eco-friendly practices such as reducing, reusing and recycling plastic products. Finally, it is crucial to support research and innovation to develop new technologies and solutions that can minimise or eliminate the generation and disposal of plastic waste. Bio-plastic made from natural sources such as algae, corn starch and others which can degrade faster and have a lower impact on the environment, are one such example.
Dr Kulwant Singh Phull
Bring about change through awareness
In a democratic form of government, the role of elected representatives is more important and significant than the role of government officers concerned. Strict or forced implementation of the laws is sure to evoke resentment but if change is brought about through awareness campaigns and by convincing the people that the change is for their own good, then results can definitely be extended. It is for the people to voluntarily sideline the use of plastic bags. If the government implements the ban on single-use plastic, it will certainly upset the consumers. The good old fashion of carrying cotton bags had faded but the need for environmental conservation can surely witness a resurgence of the time-honoured eco-friendly questions.
Rajat Kumar Mohindru
Wake up before it is too late
There is a complete ban on the manufacturing, sale and use of single-use plastics (from July 1, 2022) to tackle the plastic pollution. In spite of the ban, its use has increased manifold. There are a few states in the country where administrations have succeeded, to a large extent, in implementing this ban. That also means that citizens residing in those states respect the order of the government. Every resident of the country is well aware of the side-effects of single-use plastic, but still they are using it. The choked drains and flooded streets in the rainy season are the results of excessive use of plastic. The effects of excessive use of plastic are recent landslides and climate-related tragedies in many parts of the country and a flood-like situation in the state. The need of the hour is to stop its use because it is endangering our environment. Now the question is why it is being used. All the manufacturing units should be closed so that the menace can be checked from reaching crisis proportions. No strict action is being taken against its manufacturers, stockiests, suppliers, sellers and last but not least, its users. The plastic manufacturers should be challaned just like street hawkers. If one can carry a mobile phone weighing hundred plus grams in one’s pocket, why cannot he carry a bag much lighter than a cellphone? In short, it is time to wake up and stop the use of plastic otherwise it will be too late.
Kamal Nayan Sharma
Use plastic as little as possible
First of all, garbage containing lots of plastic bags should be removed from streets because if garbage is not collected, people will have to face many health problems. Every street in cities should have cleaning agents to clean it. Plastic should be banned. It should be used as little as possible. After use, we should not throw it away or burn it. Rather we should send it for recycling. We should also stop using plastic envelopes. Plastic envelopes and many other types of plastic items can be seen lying around in cities. It is not right to burn plastic and not recycle it. After being recycled, everything will be the same again, therefore, plastic items should not be made. Instead they should be strictly prohibited.
Supreet Kaur Sarchur
Penalise those who throw plastic on roads
The government should take serious steps to stop the use of plastic bags. We should stop using plastic bags so that our surroundings remain clean. The government should take strict action against those who sell plastic articles like drinking straws. Through these columns, I want to draw the public’s attention to the harmful effects of plastic polybags in the environment. People who throw or burn envelopes, etc, on the road should be penalized. Ideally, a separate law should be made for violators. It is of utmost importance to spread awareness about the harmful effects of plastic on the environment. Polybags are not biodegradable. They do not decay. I request the authorities concerned to take some steps to save our environment.
Govt should stop its manufacturing
Every form of plastic is harmful because it does not rot easily. It chokes not only sewer lines but also sewerage systems. When it is burnt, it pollutes the air. When we bring things from the market in the form of plastic, it is also harmful. It should be totally banned. The Central Government should stop the manufacturing of plastic. The government should take strict action against the manufacturers and the users. The government should entrust the Environment Department and the police department with the task of stopping people from using plastic articles. If a person is still found using and purchasing plastic items, the police must file an FIR against him/her. We know that plastic articles not only pollute but also spread diseases. It will be in the larger interest of the public and the environment to put a complete ban on plastic in the country.
Sucha Singh Sagar
Avoid use of plastic to save environment
Plastic should be completely banned in the country. If the use of plastic continues for many more years, the country will have to face the dire consequences. If we use plastic bottles, we should put them in the garbage bin. If we do not do so, the environment will be damaged. Also, we should not even burn plastic. We should put used plastic items in the recycle bin. If we use plastic envelopes, we are inviting many diseases caused by plastic. If we stop making plastic, our country will be healthy and safe.
We ought to go for biodegradable ones
In spite of so much awareness about the ill-effects of plastic, people still are using it. There is an urgent need to create more awareness about health hazards associated with the use of plastic. Moreover, polythene bags clog rainwater drains on roads resulting in waterlogging during the rainy season. Waterlogging further damages roads. There are people who burn these plastic bags on roads resulting in pollution. The need of the hour is to replace single-use plastic bags with biodegradable ones. Initially, to counter the higher costs of biodegradable bags, the government needs to give subsidies to shopkeepers and street vendors who use these biodegradable bags. Awareness in schools and colleges through education should be raised so that consumers can be awakened to its bad effects. Municipal corporations should put up hoardings in cities to raise awareness among the general public.
Harvinder Singh Chugh
With some erstwhile posh areas and thoroughfares in the city turning into semi-slums due to bad management of garbage, is it not time the city authorities are held accountable for garbage mounds and insanitary conditions prevailing in many city areas?
Suggestions in not more than 200 words can be sent to [email protected] by Thursday (Oct 5).
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