Plastic ban in Tamil Nadu – pros and cons

“This stuff is everywhere now, it’s there in our food, our clothes and in us.”

“We are so used to it now we don’t know how to avoid it.”

“We depend on plastics and now we are drowning in it.”

“We are rapidly heading towards ‘PLANET PLASTICS’.”

“The plastics crisis is more urgent than you know.”

 

These are environmental analysts first opinion when asked about plastics. The scientists from the beginning have been suggesting a practical, efficient and healthy solution which we fail to follow. Want to know what they said? Let us discuss that after going in detail about the advantages and disadvantages of plastics and this ban that the government has imposed on us.

 

 

But before all that let us briefly discuss about the history of plastics..

 

A rare novelty in the 1970s, plastic products have now become an omnipresent global product.

– 1869: the first synthetic polymer was invented.

– 1907: new plastic products were invented for various applications.

– 1950: plastics find replacements in automotive industries.

– 1965: plastics became a commodity and were started to use by the common people regularly,           replacing cloth and organic products.

– 2018: #BeatPlasticPollution was chosen as the theme of the ‘World environment day’.

– 2019: Ban one time use plastics.

 

So are plastic products facing their end?  So should we prepare ourselves to say RIP ‘plastic industry’? No, the answer is definitely no…Why?

 

Despite plastics having gained mistrust due to its harmful effects, plastics are still critical to modern life. Perhaps most of the inexpensive plastic items have raised our standard of living and also made our lives easier. Replacing natural materials with plastic has made many of our possessions cheaper, lighter, safer and stronger.

 

So banning plastics, is it a practical idea? Every argument has two sides right? Let’s see both.

 

Pros of plastic ban:

 

– First of all there will be reduction in the amount of pollution after some weeks.

– People will start researching on the alternatives to plastic. i.e. they will go back to using natural products.

 

Cons of plastic ban:

 

– The usage of natural products will rise and may result in it being exploited. Because millions of tons of plastic usage is being replaced.

– More importantly, people running plastic industries and working under it will lose their jobs and will suffer.

 

And now, plastics have been banned from January 1st, 2019 once again; after a failed attempt by our late Honourable Chief Minister Ms.Jayalalitha in 2002. And this ban would hit over 5000 plastic industries across the state and investments close to Rs.3000 crores. More than 2 lakhs of people will be affected due to this.

 

There are many instances where imposing plastic bans have failed. For example, it was a failure in Maharashtra and even in Tamil Nadu 16 years back. Let’s just wait and see what the repercussions are going to be.

 

Now, let’s talk about the most efficient and powerful way of tackling this problem suggested by scientists. It all peters down to how we dispose used plastic.

 

If we dispose the plastics that we use safely rather than just throwing it away carelessly, we could solve the greatest problem that has ever plagued Mother Earth with such ease. But the thing is, we learnt how to use it properly but never how to dispose it. How do we learn it?

 

It all lies in the government’s hands. They should spread more awareness in an appealing way. Safe disposal must be taught to everyone right from their elementary education. It should be taught as a lifestyle rather than teaching it as a lesson. It must become second nature rather than being a forced habit. Just give it a thought, we use plastics throughout our day, and it has made our life easier in all possible way. Therefore it’s impossible for us to find an alternative so soon. So, we should encourage people and teach everyone starting from a very young age about safe dumping of used plastics as that is the best solution for long term.

 

 

VERDICT:

 

Indeed plastic ban is an idea that is welcomed, but we should also consider its downfalls. As an alternative, the government can impose strict rules on plastic disposal rather than totally barring it. Students pursuing, Rubber and Plastics Technology or any course related to it might fear that; but there is nothing to fear because here’s where they get a lot of scope in this course. Students may work on synthesizing new bio-degradable polymers, new methods to efficiently recycle the used plastics and also there are so many applications for plastics in the field of auto motives, aerospace and so on… Hence there is a great future in this field.

 

Written by: Vishwa Krishnakumar, Second year, Department of Rubber and Plastic technology.

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