Plastic pollution is an emerging issue all over the world and is being discussed on local to global levels. Plastics are polymers produced by the polymerization of monomers. Plastics are made from naphtha, a byproduct of petroleum and gas refining. Actually, Naphtha is a waste product. So, it is good to approach to use Naphtha for making such valuable products. Plastic has become an indispensable material in modern society. There is a significant increase in the demand of plastics since industrial revolution because of its unique properties (strength, flexibility, low cost, easily available raw material etc.) and is involved in everyday items e.g. tables, chairs, computers, shopping bags etc.
Besides all the uses, benefits of plastics the problem is that it is nonbiodegradable and can stay in the open environment for hundreds of years (500 years). It takes very long time to degrade in the open environment. It releases methane gas during degradation that is a potent greenhouse gas. It destroys the aesthetic beauty of the environment and kills millions of animals due to choking every year. Millions of animals are dying because of plastic pollution. Especially birds and water organisms. Sea turtles, seals, sea lions, fish, whale, dolphin, sea birds etc. are most affected due to plastic pollution.
Worldwide, one million plastic bags and one million plastic bottles are used every minute. About,50% of our plastic use is single use (disposable) and it contains 10% of the total waste generated. The global production of plastics was 311 million tons in 2014and is expected to reach 1.2 billion tons by 2050.8 million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean each year. That is the equivalent to one garbage truck per minute and at that rate, it could increase two trucks per minute by 2030 and four by 2050”.If the present scenario continues then, by 2050ocean will have more plastic than fish.
Many solutions were proposed to this problem e.g. banning plastics, replacing plastics, imposing extra taxes on plastics, imposing stricter laws etc. The best solution to plastics pollution is“Oxo-biodegradable plastics”.Oxo-biodegradable plastics contains a small amount of additive(transition metal salte.g. Mn etc.) that promotes degradation of plastics in natural environments after its service life. One of these additives is D2W- Designed to Waste.D2W is a special additive made by Symphony Environmental (A UK based Firm) to make plastics smarter and control their life. It breaks the long chains of carbohydrate in plastics responsible for its strength and flexibility after the end of its pre-determined service life and converts the plastics into a material that is no longer plastics and easily be assimilated by microbes in the environment. It also stabilizes the properties of plastics e.g. stability, flexibility, strength and prevent premature degradation and prevents release methane during degradation while bio-based plastics do so. Business Dynamics is distributing this special additive in Pakistan to tackle plastic pollution. Many countries now have rules and regulation about the use of Oxo-biodegradable plastics e.g. UAE, KSA, Pakistan, UK etc. These countries are promoting and advising the use of Oxo-biodegradable plastics by making laws, conducting awareness seminars etc.
Another effective solution to avoid shopping bag pollution is to increase the thickness of plastic bags. Plastic bags with lower thickness can move from one place to other by wind etc. stuck to a tree etc. and may be confused by animals as food, and leading to death by choking. India increased thickness from 20 microns to 50 microns. Similarly, in Pakistan, Islamabad, KPK, AJK increased thickness, Sindh imposed a ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags, while Punjab and Baluchistan are working to increase the thickness of plastic bags. Instead of using one-time use of plastic bags we must use same shopping bag again and again. Plastic bags must not be available for free. Shopkeeper must charge for plastic bags to reduce plastic consumption. The government must also impose a levy on plastic bags to lower their consumption.
We also need to focus on cloth bags. We must use a cloth bag instead of plastic bags to tackle this issue. Companies using pet e.g. Mineral Water Companies, Cold Drink Companies etc. must promote recycling by introducing schemes like “Return Empty Bottle and Get Reward”. This will also help in reducing plastic burden.