What is plastic pollution
is one of the few new chemical materials which pose environmental
problem. Polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene is largely used
in the manufacture of plastics. Synthetic polymers are easily molded
into complex shapes, have high chemical resistance, and are more or less
elastic. Some can be formed into fibers or thin transparent films.
These properties have made them popular in many durable or disposable
goods and for packaging materials. These materials have molecular weight
ranging from several thousands to 1,50,000. Excessive molecular size
seems to be mainly responsible for the resistance of these chemicals to
biodegradation and their persistence in soil environment for a long
Plastic in the environment is regarded to be more an aesthetic nuisance
than a hazard, since the material is biologically quite inert. The
plastic industry in the US alone is $ 50 billion per year and is
obviously a tempting market for biotechnolo gical enterprises.
Biotechnological processes are being developed as an alternative to
existing route or to get new biodegradable biopolymers . 20% of solid
municipal wastes in US is plastic. Non-degradable plastics accumulate at
the rate of 25 million tonnes per year. According to an estimate more
than 100 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year all over the
world. In India it is only 2 million tonnes. In India use of plastic is 2
kg per person per year while in European countries it is 60 kg per person per year while that in US it is 80 kg per person per year.
are used because they are easy and cheap to make and they can last a
long time. Unfortunately these same useful qualities can make plastic a
huge pollution problem. Because the plastic is cheap it gets discarded
easily and its persistence in the environment can do great harm.
Urbanisation has added to the plastic pollution in concentrated form in
cities. Plastic thrown on land can enter into drainage lines and chokes
them resulting into floods in local areas in cities as experienced in
Mumbai, India in 1998. It was claimed in one of the programmes on TV
Channel that eating plastic bags results in death of 100 cattles per day
in U.P. in India. In stomach of one dead cow, as much as 35 kg of
plastic was found. Because plastic does not decompose, and requires high
energy ultra-violet light to break down, the amount of plastic waste in
our oceans is steadily increasing. More than 90% of the articles found
on the sea beaches contained plastic. The plastic rubbish found on
beaches near urban areas tends to originate from use on land, such as
packaging material used to wrap around other goods.
Aug 27, 2010 |