World Environment Day

Take deposit on plastic items: Expert

NEW DELHI: Last week in Thailand, some 80 pieces of plastic rubbish weighing 8 kg were found in the stomach of a whale that died.

editorial@tribune.com

Smita Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 4

Last week in Thailand, some 80 pieces of plastic rubbish weighing 8 kg were found in the stomach of a whale that died.

According to a United Nations Environment Programme report released last December, 8 million tonne of plastic is dumped in oceans globally. While India currently is not among the top 10 nations contributing to marine pollution, estimates suggest it will be among the top five in the next decade. By 2050, there would be 3 billion more people added to the global population and reducing natural resources.

Stefan Randstrand, president and CEO of Norwegian firm Tomra that provides sensor-based eco solutions, believes India, with a large population that is not environment-educated, has a global role to play in fighting the menace of micro-plastics to marine waste.

Speaking to The Tribune, Randstrand welcomed announcement by states of Telangana and Maharashtra to go plastic free by 2022. “About 80 per cent of ocean pollution is through plastic waste like bags and bottles. By 2050, there will be equal amount of fish and plastic. Fishes will break it down into micro plastic and it will enter our food chains. Already, there is micro plastic in our drinking water,” says Randstrand.

Expressing hope the world would come together to fight this issue like it did three decades ago with the Montreal protocol to deal with ozone depletion, Randstrand advocates incentivising people to stop using plastic. “Promote a system where consumers do not throw plastic but bring it back for recycling. So when a consumer buys plastic container, they pay a deposit that is refunded upon returning the plastic item. Deposit one rupee extra on milk satchels. Apply it next to water and cold drinks bottles,” suggests Randstrand.

He underlines India needs a step-by-step approach to build a system where ragpickers are educated, get a better livelihood and there are efficient waste management systems on land. Meanwhile, single-use plastic items like straws and bags can be banned, he says.

Environment day today

India turning digital dump

Despite Centre’s emphasis on Swachh Bharat, India continues to be among the top five countries generating e-waste, an ASSOCHAM-NEC study has said. Other nations topping chart are China, US, Japan and Germany

20 lakh tonne per annum (TPA) e-waste generated in India, of which 438,085 TPA is recycled

52.2 million tonne is expected global volume of e-waste by 2021, up from 44 million tonne in 2016

What comprises e-waste

Discarded computer monitors, motherboards, cathode ray tubes, printed circuit board, mobile phones and chargers, compact discs, headphones, white goods such as liquid crystal displays and plasma televisions, ACs, refrigerators etc.

Health hazard

Exposure to chemicals emitted during unsafe e-waste recycling leads to damage of nervous system, blood system, kidneys, brain, respiratory and skin disorders, lung cancer, heart, liver, and spleen damage.

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