By Basit Ali Khan
Islamabad: It’s been a laborious task to diminish the scourge which human has created so far. The plastic has not merely polluted our beloved homeland but has also been detrimental for marine life and human beings. Day after day people’s predilection with plastic has been increasing. We prefer plastic because it is cheap, pliable, easy to use and long lasting. Now we have made ourselves so reluctant that we cannot even think of living without plastic. Why plastic is so dangerous? Because it took hundreds of years for its biodegrading process and all these years, this toxin has been polluting the environment and spreading diseases in living beings. People toss their plastic trash over public places without even knowing that this waste would mismanage and ultimately huge amount is dumped in rivers and seashores? After that, it envenoms the water which severely impacts the marine life and leads to dangerous infections and expiration. This further bedevils the situation as that toxin seafood become part of human life which ultimately paves a way to inject chemicals in the human body subsequently leads to the health hazard.
A study published in Science Magazine 2015 (based on 2010 data) revealed that Pakistan was way ahead of India in plastic waste generation. According to the study, Pakistan generates 6.4 million tonnes plastic waste per year. India remained behind with 4.5 million tonnes plastic waste per year.
Though the population of India is five times more among us, still we are leading with a significant gap. Moreover, China is the main culprit of plastic waste generation globally with 59 million tonnes per year. The United States recorded the second most plastic waste generated country with 38 million tonnes. Data further show that Pakistan yearly mismanaged 86 percent of the plastic waste and there are high chances that by and large this waste may end in the ocean, river, and canal ultimately cause killing marine from ingestion and source of spreading various disease among humans like cancer, immune system problem and birth defects.
The study further figures out the above data in term of population and revealed astonishing figure that In Pakistan, each person contributes ten times more plastic waste per day than India, which is 0.1 kg. India generating 0.01 kg per person per day. Kuwait, Ghana, and Germany top with 0.7 kg, 0.6kg and 0.5kg respectively. Srilanka is the biggest contributor in South Asia with 0.36 kg. Bangladesh and China produce 0.03 kg and 0.12kg per person per day respectively.
In Pakistan, many people used to burn plastic to get rid of its waste. Plastic can be made from different chemicals which help to prevent it from high temperature, microorganism, and humidity. When such chemical burns, it becomes toxic and evaporates in the air which eventually pollutes the air. This would further pour fuel on fire by destroying our ozone layer and become a source of diseases like thyroid cancer, hypo- and hypertension and Cushing’s syndrome etc.
Approximately 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic had been produced to date since its introduction in 1950. According to the science magazine, approximately 6.3 plastic waste had been generated, from which only 9% recycled, 12 % incinerated and 79% accumulated dumped in landfills or carried in ocean or river.
The research done by University of California professor Roland Geyer shows that the main culprit is the packing industry which had produced 141 million tonnes of plastic in 2015, followed by textile and consumer product which are 38 million tonnes and 37 million tonnes respectively.
Microplastic—-many of us are not familiar with this term. Numerous waste management companies shatter the plastic trash into tiny pieces which are not recognized through the naked eye. Is this a successful method? Have they found a new way to get relieved from it? Absolutely not! Plastic cannot be easily purged, most of these debris dumps into sea shores and after that some become part of ocean or river which eventually polluted the water, impinged the marine life and nature. Alan Jamieson, a researcher of marine ecology at Newcastle University, said that “It is highly likely there are no marine ecosystems left that are not impacted by anthropogenic debris.”
In Pakistan, no effectual initiative has been taken by the government to fight for this menace. Although some societies like WWF Pakistan and Islamabad-Oxfam have launched campaigns for the eradication of this pollution; Rawalpindi administration has also launched a campaign and took initiative to introduce cotton bags in the market. But above all, these are a drop in the ocean. Courts imposed ban on polystyrene bagnumerous times, but our fledging administration always failed to implement it on a larger scale as without providing alternative and social awareness this thing can never bring down. The government should introduce mass level societal campaign as it is the need of the hour to let people know what they are using and what its dire consequences are. The onus is on us as well to minimize plastic usage in our daily life by giving preference to cotton bags, glass bottles, and reusable shopping bags etc.
Image credit: iStock