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Is Plastic Bag is a Source of Environmental Pollution What is the Solution

Is Plastic Bag is a Source of Environmental Pollution What is the Solution



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Published by karki Keadr Dr

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Published by: karki Keadr Dr on Oct 20, 2008
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Is plastic bag is a source of our urbanenvironmental pollution what is the solution?
Dr.Kedar KarkiIntroduction:
"Plastics" derived their name from their properties to be molded, cast,extruded or processed into a variety of forms, including solid objects, films andfilaments. These properties arise from their molecular structure. Plastics arepolymers, very long chain molecules that consist of subunits (monomers) linkedtogether by chemical bonds. The monomers of petrochemical plastics areinorganic materials (such as styrene) and are not biodegradable. Plastics aresynthetic substances produced by chemical reactions. Almost all plastics aremade from petroleum, except a few experimental resins derived from corn andother organic substances. Plastic has many properties which has made it a rawmaterial of choice for Manufactures of plastic Bags and packing materials. Costof production, light weight, strength, easy process of manufacture, andavailability are few of the properties. There is nothing wrong with plastic as amaterial. Man has simply not put the plastic to the right use/ or using itwithout taking proper care of other related norms of usage.
Plastic as Packing Material:
 Plastic has replaced the traditional material (paper/cloth etc) as packing andcarry bags because of cost and convenience which is possibly a wrong choice of material for such use. Even though plastic bags can preserve food and can beused for growing vegetables in a controlled environment, their method of disposal has creates unprecedented pollution problem. Plastic has many moreuses other than Plastic Bags and Packing material. It is used for manufacturingof protective covers and parts for many machines, which is considered as thepreferred utility for plastic.
The Global Dimension:
 More than a 100 million tones of plastic is produced world-wide each year.Though plastics have opened the way for a plethora of new inventions anddevices it has also ended up clogging the drains and becoming a health hazard.Many countries, including India, are trying to increase the amount of plasticthat is recycled. But commercial interests create hindrance for effectivelegislation to remove plastics from goods where they can threaten publichealth. Also there is a clear trend of shipping off the plastic waste of developed countries to under developed and developing countries.
Shopping Culture in Earlier Days:
Before the advent of poly-bags, people did shop, buy things, bring eatablesfrom the market, and did the same marketing as is done now. How did they doit? The raw material for the bag was decided by its usage. Cloth bags for lighteritems, Gunny bags/Jute bags for voluminous and heavier goods. The cost didnot justify use and discard attitude. These bags were washable and reusablelasting for six months to a year.
Plastic and its Environmental Hazards:
 The hazards plastics pose are numerous. The land gets littered by plastic baggarbage presenting an ugly and unhygienic seen. The "Throw away culture"results in these bags finding their way in to the city drainage system, theresulting blockage cases inconvenience, difficult in maintaining the drainagewith increased cost, creates unhygienic environment resulting in health hazardand spreading of water borne diseases. This littering also reduces rate of rainwater percolating, resulting in lowering of already low water levels in ourcities. The soil fertility deteriorates as the plastic bags form part of manureremains in the soil for years. It has been observed that the animals eating thebags sometimes die. Plastic goes into the ocean which is already a plasticinfested body of water. Fish and other marine species in the water ways,misunderstanding plastic garbage as food items swallow them and die.
Should use of Plastic be totally banned?
 Many household utility items like needle, scissors, and blades can heart if nothandled properly. Children need to be trained in their proper handling. Theseutility items are not banned. But because of throw away culture and noobjection from passer by, the advice on sensible disposal of plastic bags are notheeded by general public forcing the government to consider banning of plasticbags all together. "Should plastic carry bags and bottles be banned in totality?"- is a heated issue today. Its world annual average consumption is an alarming18 kg. But too many do it as our cities as it have huge population. The countryyet to take a serious view of the issue and have a uniform nation-wide law forindiscreet disposals of plastic bags. People should be educated on the properways of plastic bag usage and the disposal. The teaching should start right fromthe primary schools. Plastic is an eco-friendly material. The real problem islittering, some claim. But there is hardly anybody who agrees with suchviewpoint. Thinking rationally, the whole idea of educating people aboutplastic bags, although very ambitious, and it is as difficult as banning smokingThe conventional older and tested alternatives offers an easy, if not fullyequitable and practical solution. And all the hype that poly-bags pollute is nottotally false. It is not that poly-bags are responsible for the ills, of course not,it is the humans. It is ignorance (or who cares attitude). We have not bannedsewing needles they pierce through the skin. It's a stupid idea. Whether it isthe common citizen, the government official or the hard-hit plastic bag
manufacturer, all of them agree on one point - firm steps are required to betaken against littering of plastic bags and bottles all around.
Future Alternative – Eco-Friendly Plastics:
However newer technology is also being developed in this regard. This entailsthe use of DEGRADABLE PLASTICS. The principal is to incorporate into theplastic some chemical that is photodegradable/biodegradable or chemicallytreatable. By adding starch, biodegradable plastics are generally made. Onburial such plastics are attacked by bacteria feeding on starch, which breaksthese down into tiny particles that disappear harmlessly into the soil. Somecommon examples of biodegradable plastics are the use of "non-removable"suture materials in surgery or capsules for drugs, which dissolve slowly in bodyfluids. Chemically degradable plastics can be broken up by spraying them witha solution that causes them to dissolve. For example such material can be usedas a protective wax covering for new cars that wash off at the dealer's garageby a specially formulated spray. This spray reacts with one of the componentsof the plastic and causes it to dissolve into harmless materials which can beflushed down the drain. Photo-degradable plastics contain chemicals thatslowly disintegrate when exposed to light. In France, strips of photo-degradable plastic about 3 ft (1mtr) wide are used to retain heat in the soil andproduce early crops. They last for about 1 to 3 years before rotting into thesoil. But they have to be used in places with consistent amount of sunshine sothat they decay at a predictable rate. In the USA, about one quarter of theplastic yokes that link beer cans in a six pack are made of plastic calledEcolyte, which is photo-degradable. But to stop them decaying too early, theymust be stored away from direct sunlight, which can be of some inconvenienceto the retailer. However degradable plastic can have a few other problems.For example, it cannot be recycled because there is no easy way to measure itsremaining life span. The biggest drawback is the cost of its production.Japanese scientists however claim that they will soon be able to produce muchcheaper multipurpose biodegradable plastic. In order to obviate the disposalproblems and to prevent Environmental pollution caused by routinely usedpolythene packaging materials; it would be prudent, for the present, to useeco-friendly paper packaging. The manufacturers of plastic packaging like softdrink bottles/mineral water bottles etc must come forward and developappropriate methods of disposal/own responsibility for disposal. Plastic bagsare so light and strong that they can carry normal weight, cheap and is used inall types of shops in our daily life. For example: bakeries, medical shops,grocery stores, hotels, etc. People are so accustomed to it, that they find itvery difficult to part with it. Plastic bags have made it possible for people to gowithout bags to market or work place as these bags are availably for asking andcan be thrown without a second thought. People who go on picnics, visitinghistoric places, hill stations etc., to enjoy their holidays or just for a changecarry with them eatables in containers, plastic bags, mineral water bottles(plastic), plastic plates and plastic cups and generally leave it in the open air

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