Recently, the government announced that it will put a ban on the usage of single-use plastics. This will be implemented under the Swachhtaabhiyan on the day of Gandhi Jayanti this year.

What is single use plastics?

Single use plastics as the name suggests are used only once before they are thrown. These are disposable plastics. Only 10-13% single use plastics are recycled worldwide. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has identified 12 single use plastics to be initially banned. These includes carry bags, non woven carry bags, wrapping, straws, plastics cups, bowls and plates, plastic sticks, balloons and flags, cigarette butts, small, plastic bottles, thermocol and thin roadside banners.

We know that single use plastics is non -biodegradable but it will degrade with time after many years into tiny particles, in the process of breaking down it releases toxic chemicals which enter the food chain. These toxic chemicals can cause cancer, infertility, birth defects etc. A lot of single use plastics end up in landfills and oceans, as they cannot be recycled or reused.

The industries have sought the removal of less than 200 ml from the proposed list. PET ( Polyethylene terephthalate) is not single use plastic, it can be recycled. Alternatives like paper bottles and aluminium cannot replace PET due to affordability.

Alternatives : Bio-plastics

Bio-plastics includes those materials which can be used as plastic but are organic materials. These are usually made up of wood chips, corn starch and food waste. These are biodegradable plastics and some may also be recycled. Bio-plastics are also renewable and reduce carbon footprint. They are already used in agriculture, medicine, textile industry and as packaging materials.

  1. Milk based – This bio-plastic is developed from milk protein. It is primarily developed for food packaging. It decomposes within 18 days and also leaves no impact on the environment.
  2. Seaweed based – It is also a packaging bio-plastic made up of seaweeds. It produces minerals which can be further used as fertilizers. It is printable and heat seal able.
  3. Corn starch based – This is a food packaging material made of cornstarch, cooking oil and sugar. They decompose within 15 years and therefore are of long term use.
  4. Potato starch based – It requires specific heat and humidity to decompose without leaving any toxic material. It is used as an alternative to petroleum based raincoats.

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