Initiated on the 5th June 1974, World Environment Day or WED has been flagship campaign of the United Nations for raising awareness on the emerging threats to our environment including and not limited to water pollution, global warming, population explosion, etc. Over the years, the campaign has grown in terms of reach where over 143 countries actively participate in promoting the campaign where every year one of the many environmental threats are addressed by NGOs, Corporate communities, etc. The theme for the year 2018 is “Beat Plastic Pollution” with India elected as the host nation with the country’s recent stint in its fastidious ban of plastic in 25 Indian states. As one of the multipurpose commodities that have ruled the market for years, finding the alternative substitutes is still a new concept and the country is moving towards employing as little plastic as possible by enforcing this blanket ban in the states and union territories.
According to an Assessment Report released by the Central Pollution Control Board, India (CPCB) in January 2015; on an average 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated every day. Out of this only 9,000 tonnes are processed/recycled or collected wherein the remaining 6,000 tonnes make up the litter that is dumped in landfills. This causes contamination of the surrounding soil, groundwater, etc. as 66% of the plastic is mixed with waste used to pack food (pouches and polyethylene bags).
The report also stated that annually over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die either due to ingesting plastic or by getting tangled in plastic ropes, nylon fishing lines, etc. Moreover, the half-life of plastic is anywhere in between 450 to 1000 years which results in accumulation of plastic waste. Hence, taking a strict measure like the blanket banning of plastic in many of the countries is a crucial turning point to “Beat Plastic Pollution.”