Plastic bags are not safe for the ecosystem, since they are not easy to recycle. They cause severe health hazard for human, animals and the environment. Though there is plastic ban in several states including Maharashtra, which has become the 17 other states and Union Territories so far, in order to prevent litter and help the environment. But, many economic experts point out the negative economic impact. They list out several benefits of plastic bags in various sectors like shopping, logistics and its role generating huge employment.
Why we need plastic ban?
Negative impact on environment
One of the biggest threats about plastic bags is that they threaten the environment. Plastic bags pollute the land and water, since they are lightweight, plastic materials can travel long distances by wind and water. Besides, these material bags are made from non-renewable resources. The majority of plastic bags is made of polypropylene, a material derived from petroleum and natural gas. Both of them are non-renewable fossil fuel-based resources, which contribute to global climate change.
High cost of production
It is said that the production of plastic material are very energy intensive. In order to produce nine plastic bags, it takes the equivalent energy to drive a car one kilometer (more than 0.5 miles). Using these resources to make plastic bags is not advisable since the life of plastic bag is just about 12 minutes. Plastic bags are not easy to recycle
Most of the plastics are not recyclable. Though some kinds of plastic bags can be recyclable, many done possess the technology or the plants to recycle them. According to various estimates, the actual recycling rate for plastic bags is about 5- 6 percent.
Threat to marine life
Since plastic bags are not recyclable, they end up in the oceans. While they reach, they break up into tiny little pieces and are consumed by wildlife. It is estimated that 46,000-1,000,000 plastic fragments floating within every square mile of the world’s oceans. Due to their size, they are often mistaken for food by animals, birds, and marine life like fish, whales and sea turtles. Thereby congesting their digestive system lead to health issues such as infections or even death by suffocation. Many animals also get entangled or trapped.
Harmful to human health
Toxic chemicals from plastic bags can damage the blood and tissues. Frequent exposures can lead to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, hormone changes, endocrine disruption and other serious ailments.
How plastic ban can hurt the economy
Impact on trade
The Plastic industry in the country employs about 40 lakh people which include more than 30,000 processing units. Around 85-90 percent of which are small and medium – sized enterprises. A ban on the plastics could easy affect industry, posing question on the trade and employment.
Best for Branding
Plastic bags offer the easiest way for printing the business logo, company name and other relevant information. Printing cost is very low compared to paper and cloth bags.
Cheaper than Paper Cloth Packaging
A piece of plastic bag will cost you no more than 10-15 paise which is much cheaper than a paper bag costing 20-25 paise per piece. This means that purchasing plastic bags in large quantities will be beneficial for small business and improves profit margins.
Size and compact
Plastic bags are easy to open, pack and transport. That is the reason why they are used widely in logistic and retail industry. In contrast, reusable cloth bags consume more space and are quite heavy.
Though recycling is the best option for plastic, methodology and systemization for recycling is slow. While the production model of plastic is very huge and uncontrollable, the numbers of recycling plants are very less. This vast gap must be closed. According to an international survey, around 600 billion plastic bags are used every year and, because of their in disposable quality, many are swept into rivers or drains not just clogging but eventually ending up in the ocean. This makes plastic bags among the top 10 items of debris found in oceans and coastlines. So increasing the number of recycling plants in the only option for renewed used on plastic. Besides, plastic ban forces the customer to buy the recyclable plastic bags and reuse of disposable bags. This can also encourage reuse of the bags. Moreover, such a ban could be complemented by ensuring that retail shop keeper and big shopping complexes to team up with plastic recycling firms and set up even collection points for the bags which no longer be reused. Finally, government should educate the public and trade bodies to achieve the benefits of the ban. Since long term benefits of plastic bag ban use will benefit the economy and also save taxpayer money can lead to plastic bag cleanup.
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