A Chaotic Scenario!
Invention of plastic was a smart move but no one knew that it will be turned into a nightmare. Plastic consists of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic compounds. It was used as a replacement of ivory or tortoise shell in the 1800s. It is made by hydrocarbons: gas, oil and coal. It has been a smart packaging solution such as for electronic gadgets, cosmetics, shopping, bottle containers, etc.
With the passage of time, the use of plastic has increased exponentially to the extent that it is now a dilemma. It is widely used, as per statistics, around 300 million ton annually. According to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at least 5 trillion plastic bags are used each year—around one million per minute. Isn’t it too much?
Plastic is one the main contributors to pollution which is having drastic affects not only on our health but also on our finances. It is a major cause of marine pollution as it takes up to 1000 years to decompose. Fish and other marine animals are being killed by plastic—reports suggest that more than 100000 marine creatures die due to the intake of plastic in the oceans.
Beside marine pollution, plastic also adds to air pollution. Household and commercial garbage and waste also have a significant amount of plastic. Burning this garbage has adverse impact on the atmosphere and the air quality. When we breathe this polluted air, several respiratory diseases are caused which lead to a significant number of deaths annually.
The situation in Pakistan is also precarious as far as the use of plastic is concerned. According to a survey, 12 million bags were used in Pakistan in 1990-91 but this number soared to 43 billion in 2015 and 55 billion in 2017. Use of plastic has grown because people find it preferable to buy packaged products like milk, water, etc. Since it is not readily decomposable, plastic turns into landfills and grounds. Owing to this, large areas have which once were used for their grazing, have been converted into landfills and waste disposal sites. Animals while grazing ingest the plastic debris; as a result they get poisoned, and ultimately they die.
However, it is not an unsolvable problem. Use of plastic can be curtailed by taking some serious, calculated steps.
Firstly, plastic bags should be ordered banned and replaced by reusable or bio-degradable plastic bags. Secondly, plastic bottles can be substituted with reusable bottles. Next to it, containers that are made of plastic should be replaced with glass or silicone containers. Furthermore, provincial governments should formulate laws to ban plastic, and promote environmental-friendly bags such as bio-degradable bags and containers, within their territories. The examples of Islamabad and Sindh, which prohibited the use of plastic last year, should be followed.
To conclude, plastic has become one of the major pollutants in current times all over the world. It shares in all main types: water, land and air pollution. If the same situation continues, it will create more chaos and damage to the mankind as well as the societies. But the plastic is controllable if it is mainstreamed and measured accurately. It can be hoped that the future will be plastic and pollution free.
The author is currently a visiting faculty at Government Degree College, Hub, and an ESL instructor at School of Intensive Teaching (SIT), Hub, Balochistan.