Plastic and Environment – II

The final stage in the life cycle of plastics is disposal/recycling.  Three common types of getting rid off plastics are dumping in landfills, burning them in incineration and littering.  The environmental effect during disposal stage is largely due to improper handling during this three processes.  It can be readily observed in developing countries like India, inefficient and faulty waste collection and transit system is causing problems as plastic wastes are finding their way into the soil, the sewage system and the water bodies.   In the case of sewage system plastic causes drain blockages, which cause severe health problems like cholera during monsoon season in developing and third world countries. If plastic clog the soil, it prevents water flow and reduces land fertility. Further, bio-waste is food resource for other species plastic disposal with out segregation is causing health problems leading to their death.

Plastic waste in animal stomach and water body

Recyling is the best practice to handle plastic waste. However the practice of recycling varies from country to country. In the case of develpoed countries cutting edge technology is used for recycling. In the case of developing countries, technology plays minimal role in recyling process. Recycling in most of the developing countries done by informal sector, usally in ghettos. The rate of recycling in India is extremely high. About 40 percent of the total plastics manufactured are sorted, collected and recycled as opposed to only 10-15 percent in developed countries. However, the end result is not always green due to end products are of very low quality.

Number of policy insturment exist to protect environement from plasti waste as shown bellow.

Different policy instruments to protect environment, source: Bosman, C. (2005). Presentation on Environmental governance: Relationships and instruments. Pretoria: Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.