Should Plastic be banned?

Plastics are durable, lightweight, flexible and inexpensive, which has led to their wide range of use. Polystyrene, Polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Teflon, Polyimide, Urea-formaldehyde (UF), and many more plastics comprises a wide range of synthetic and semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as the main ingredient. It is estimated that about 50 kg of plastics is produced annually per day worldwide, and production is doubling every ten years. Applications of plastics include packaging, construction, textiles, consumer goods (toys, tableware, brushes), transportation, electronics (phones, television) etc.

The chemical structure of plastics makes them durable but make plastics non-biodegradable. When it breaks down, it turns into microplastics. Microplastics find their way into waterways where other creatures, including humans, digest them. Subsequently, it sits in the gut, piling up and leaching harmful chemicals into the body. Many cities around the world have banned the use of plastic bags. Plastic bottles are carcinogenic if used over time. Many plastic items are dumped in the ocean covering the upper surface with sunlight and oxygen to enter the sea. They are resulting in the killing of creatures living inside the sea and disturbing the ecosystem. The alternative to plastics is not well known. Although, we can recycle some plastic. We have options for plastic bags like jute or paper bags. Researches all around the world are going on. Japanese scientists in 1975 discovered a strain Flavobacterium that can digest specific nylon. Several species of soil fungi can consume polyurethane. The fungus Aspergillus fumigatus effectively degrades plasticized PVC. Recycling plastic is also an option, but only 9% of plastic gets recycled.

Plastics have become an intrinsic part of our day to day life. Some governments and organizations tried to ban plastic as it is becoming a significant threat, and environmental problems are overlooked and underestimated. People do not look at the long-term effects. They only see their ease to use plastic for their cheaper cost. But, to save our environment and the earth, we need to stop using non-biodegradable plastics completely.

Written by:

Shivanshu Mishra

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