"Plastics" derived their name from their properties to be molded, cast, extruded or processed into a variety of forms, including solid objects, films and filaments. These properties arise from their molecular structure. Plastics are polymers, very long chain molecules that consist of subunits (monomers) linked together by chemical bonds. The monomers of petrochemical plastics are inorganic materials (such as styrene) and are not biodegradable.
Plastic has many properties which has made it a raw material of choice for Manufactures of plastic Bags and packing materials. Cost of production, light weight, strength, easy process of manufacture, and availability are few of the properties. There is nothing wrong with plastic as a material. Man has simply not put the plastic to the right use/ or using it without taking proper care of other related norms of usage.
PLASTIC AS PACKING MATERIAL
Plastic has replaced the traditional material ( paper/cloth etc) as packing and carry bags because of cost and convenience which is possibly a wrong choice of material for such use. Even though plastic bags can preserve food and can be used for growing vegetables in a controlled environment, their method of disposal has creates unprecedented pollution problem.
Plastic has many more uses other than Plastic Bags and Packing material. It is used for manufacturing of protective covers and parts for many machines, which should be the preferred utility for plastic.
SHOPPING CULTURE IN EARLIER DAYS ( Pre Plastic age 1970 + )
Before the advent of poly-bags, people did shop, buy things, bring eatables from the market, and did the same marketing as is done now. How did they did it? The raw material for the bag was decided by its usage. Cloth bags for lighter items, Gunny bags/Jute bags for voluminous and heavier goods. The cost did not justify use and discard attitude. These bags were washable and reusable lasting for six months to a year.
The hazards plastics pose are numerous. The land gets littered by plastic bag garbage presenting an ugly and unhygienic seen. The "Throw away culture" results in these bags finding their way in to the city drainage system, the resulting blockage cases inconvenience, difficult in maintaining the drainage with increased cost, creates unhygienic environment resulting in health hazard and spreading of water borne diseases. This littering also reduces rate of rain water percolating, resulting in lowering of already low water levels in our cities. The soil fertility deteriorates as the plastic bags form part of manure remain in the soil for years.
It has been observed that the animals eating the bags sometimes die. Plastic goes into the ocean which is already a plastic infested body of water. Fish and other marine species in the water ways, misunderstanding plastic garbage as food items swallow them and die.
SHOULD PLASTIC BE TOTALLY BANNED?
Many household utility items like needle, scissors, blades can heart if not handled properly. Children need to be trained in their proper handling. These utility items are not banned. But because of throw away culture and no objection from passer by, the advise on sensible disposal of plastic bags are not heeded by general public forcing the government to consider banning of plastic bags all together.
"Should plastic carry bags and bottles be banned in totality?" - is a heated issue today. Average Indian uses one kilogram (kg) of plastics per year, the world annual average is a alarming 18 kg. But too many do it as our cities have huge population. The country yet to take a serious view of the issue and have a uniform nation-wide law for indiscreet disposals of plastic bags. People should be educated on the proper ways of plastic bag usage and...