The World Environment Day is celebrated on June 5, however as we know love for saving the environment can’t be curbed to a single day. Being the fifth largest world economy and a booming consumer market, single use plastic is gaining full popularity. As quoted by Zomato, their online deliveries have increased multifold. “With great power comes great responsibility” - with the power of devouring a single gulab jamun at the click of your finger, one needs to also look at proper disposal methods of the inconsequential plastic container that came with it.
Citizens of India need to realise the drastic effects of plastic and feel the importance of saving the environment. In a world where plastic is being recycled widely and reused, we are still failing miserably at it. Though we have focus on tackle plastic pollution, including creating support for a global effort to eliminate single-use plastics along with global regulation for the disposal of plastics, we lack sincere efforts to educate millions of people and drive awareness on the health risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics. The time to drive behavioural change for this 1.3 bn people, comprising of 20% youth amongst whom this drive needs to be more prominent. Plastics are polluting our oceans, water, and wildlife, and decomposing plastics are creating serious global problems.
Our on-the-go lifestyles demand disposable packaging, such as soda cans or bottles of water, but the accumulation of these products has led to increasing with our increasing population and hence paramount to the problem of plastic pollution around the world. Plastics not only damages the natural beauty of the environment around us but also the is has the potential to cause great harm to the air, water and land with plastic seepage in our food cycle.
Today, we can recycle most of the single use plastics and make them into new products, like polyester yarns. However, this is not very effective as the problem of plastic segregation remains.
For recycling the plastic waste needs to be of one type, else owing to differences in their melt index, recycling becomes a challenge. Mixed plastic types, dirty plastics and mixed colours of plastics make it difficult for the recyclers to process the discarded plastic for recycling. The monetary advantage of recycling such mixed plastics is negated due to the effort in sorting, cleaning and segregating it.
“The plastic waste we generate daily is not recycled or reused and neither is there a foolproof system of disposal,” - Kavita Ashok, president and founder of a Delhi-based NGO Tree for life.
Unorganized sector collection leads to bottle contamination which lowers yields, poor quality recycled product and in some cases unfit for recycling. About 8 lakh ton of PET is being generated in India every year, however only 50% is recycled.
Use of RVM - Reverse Vending Machines maximises material value and maintains material properties as drink containers are sorted by material type.
RVM engage with the user and rewards for behavioural change and leads way for societal change by instilling this behaviour early on.
RVMs helps in decrease the CO2 emissions: one metric ton of recycled PET bottles is equivalent to 1.5 metric tons of CO2 emissions prevented, resulting in a cleaner environment.
Also, incidentally RVMs can indicate when the trash needs to be collected from a particular location.
We owe our existence to mother Earth and it’s our duty to save and protect earth. India can be a better country, if we all become better Indians.