Evolved plastic waste management to avoid ban on plastic

Dear Editor,
The problem of plastic waste management has reached to alarming proportion and has become major cause of concern to regulatory authority. Researchers all over the world have advocated that PLASTIC waste is ubiquitous as it has been found on the remotest of beaches; a?oat in the middle of the ocean; frozen within polar ice; accumulating on the sea ?oor; and also inside marine animals and sea birds. The ocean receives an estimated 8 million metric tonnes of plastic waste per year. As plastic remain in the environment for hundreds of years and thereby the trillions of plastic pieces accumulating in the ocean form part of a global pollution issue. Moreover ecological, economic, and aesthetic damage are strongly associated with plastic debris that results in severe harm to wildlife. The valuable plants and animals are facing threat of extinction if things are not quickly reversed. Plastic waste presents not only an environmental issue but also a major socio-economic development challenge which impacts biodiversity, infrastructure, tourism and livelihoods of fishermen.
Also burning plastic in open air, by the people out of ignorance, releases gases namely dioxine and furan which are highly carcinogenic compound. No doubt, Most critical environmental issue is management of plastic waste. But framing the policy to impose ban on using plastic may not be the solution until alternative materials equivalent to plastic in all respects are made available in the market. Moreover employment problem will be further aggravated. Packaging industry will be badly hampered.
An environmental solution to the problem of plastic waste disposal has been recommended by many researchers. According to them, important task to overcome the key knowledge gap is to measure the extent, distribution and impacts of debris on land, rivers, estuaries, islands and along coastlines. The traditional mindset of the engineers and scientists, with scant regard to sound scientific evidences available in the literature, is the major impediment to success in developing management and remedial strategies of plastic waste by identifying and quantifying the sources, sinks, ?ows and types of waste. In Indian context particularly in hilly areas or in coastal town , a well-designed data collection initiative can serve as a baseline for testing electiveness of programs recommended in peer reviewed journal. For this program, state regulatory bodies such as State Pollution Control Board, State Public Health Department and Forest Department must come forward to collate the existing information available in nation and international journals/reports on plastic waste mismanagement for stipulating the new legal instruments. Particularly in small states where there is scarcity of land to afford landfills, incremental technological innovation based on critical appraisal of available scientific evidences can helps to develop management strategies of plastic waste generated in particular area. The plastic waste if properly collected, may be used to produce energetic materials by converting inert plastic waste into energy (thermal and mechanical energies) via a light-controlled process through the simple chemical activation of plastic waste, including polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride as being practiced in many pthr countries. Another approach may be the polluter pays principle that needs to integrate systemic thinking, with technological innovations and policy reforms at all stages of the supply chain, to promote sustainable practices. Most important component in plastic waste management is the “collection modalities”. The European Commission (EC) recently introduced a ‘Circular Economy Package’, setting ambitious recycling targets and identifying waste plastics eeds . Implementing newly introduced collection system must be tuned to make it appropriate to the particular location. Three main collection schemes, as currently implemented in England, were taken into account: (i) kerbside collection (KS), (ii) household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) (also known as ‘civic amenity sites’),and (iii) bring sites/banks (BSs). In many countries, regulatory authorities never thought of imposing ban on plastic rather they put emphasis on proper management of plastic waste. Moreover in many countries, regulatory authorities have already sponsored research projects to produce biodegradable plastic.
What should the best option to manage plastic waste depends on collation of scientific information and development of conceptual model to tackle this problem. Since a large number of scientific information is available, only sincere effort is needed to evolve the management strategy. Also fast-tracking education, awareness programs and understanding to promote best management practice can prove bene?cial towards environmental solution. The conventional mindset to impose ban on plastic can fulfill the environmental issue; but not the equilibrium among economic, society and environment.
Debapriya Mukherjee,