UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | 28 February 2022

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What's the article about?

The article talks about the negative implications of plastics and measures in order to move towards sustainable economy.

Syllabus: GS3 Conservation, Environmental Pollution 

Data:

  • As per UNEP, only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled and about 12% has been incinerated, while the remaining 79% has accumulated in landfills, dumps or the natural environment.
  • As per (CPCB), India generates close to 26,000 tons of plastic a day and over 10,000 tons a day of plastic waste remains uncollected.
  • (UNEP) last year estimated that emissions of plastic waste into aquatic ecosystems may triple by 2040 if no meaningful action is taken.

Plastic – A negative externality

  • Long decomposition time, hence end up as solid waste in water, land etc.
  • Threat to marine wildlife faces problems like plastic ingestion, and deaths due to trapping in plastic. 
  • Health challenges in humans due to biomagnification of plastic waste.
  • Land, air and water pollution due to lack of proper waste management mechanism.
  • Energy intensive: Production of plastic materials is very energy intensive and  requires a lot of water.
  • Poor Drainage: Drainage system clogged with plastic bags, films, and other plastic items, causes flooding.

Plastic ban at many countries, negative impact:

  • The plastic industry in the country employs about 40 lakh people. 
  • A ban on plastics will affect industry, leading to job loss and an economic slowdown.

Measures Needed:

  • Command and control approach, and fiscal reforms like eco-taxes or subsidies should be taken.
  • Eco-taxes at both the production and consumption sides may help in changing the behavior of consumers, too.
  • Comprehensive policy measures against plastics by including:
    • Removing existing taxes/remedies in plastic production
    • Restructuring existing taxes in an eco-friendly manner.
    • Accounting for different types of grades of plastics.
  • Promoting multiple use of plastics through better waste management
  • Educating the public on the harmful use of plastics
  • Providing subsidy for research and development activities for substitute development, waste management and use of waste for constructive usage like roads.

Hence a collaborative effort needed for a plastic free environment by stressing on 4R's, that is, reduce, reuse, recycle and recovery.



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