Impact

France. Michigan. India. The Ban wave of plastic. Ban on Ban of Plastic.

Before I start today’s story. I am going to make a confession. I am very bad at taking actions, actually, we all are. What I mean is in the context of our climate and environment. We’re very sympathetic to the problem but we really do not take steps to actively change it. Some of us are passive protesters, where we stop using what’s harmful but do not repair what we already damaged, which is partly a very good thing considering everything.

Plastic bags are amazing*, they can exist longer than we can. Which is precisely the problem? Until it is inside the system, it’s harmless. But it’s hazardous when it takes a litter stroll on streets or into the sea. *sarcasm

The big Why?

One of the biggest reasons is, plastic dumped into oceans. It does break down into smaller pieces called microplastic particles which aren’t biodegradable and are hazardous ocean life. There is a Great Pacific Garbage Patch Northern water body and it’s full of plastic debris. Secondly, in some regions of India, instead of recycling plastic, it’s burnt along with other disposable material, which is of course a huge source of air pollution.

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Here is a small extract from a Captain (Courtsey: National Geographic)

Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Ban on Plastic Bags, Ban on Ban, National Geographic

The Positive Action

Park City, became the first city in Utah to ban plastic bags. This isn’t the first around the globe. There is strong ban wave of thin plastic bags in several states in numerous countries. Hawaii and California have statewide bans on plastic bags.

Even more shocking than the ban on plastic bags is ‘ban on banning plastic bags’.

Yes, you heard that right. Michigan is one of them. Not just the ban on the ban of plastic, but a prohibition has been laid on imposing taxes on the use of plastic. This is precisely why you’re here, but then I thought if they’re going in the opposite direction, who’s still going forward.

Denmark first imposed a tax on the use of plastic bags, which was paid by retailers as opposed to consumers, which did little to abate the situation. Bangladesh was the first country to realize the need for a ban in 2002, when thin plastic bags use, choked the country’s drainage system causing catastrophic floods. China(2008), South Africa and Italy had imposed similar bans. China also celebrated 5 years of its ban, where Shanghai Daily stated that they saved 67 million tons of bags(6 million tons of oil).

France recently pulled off an even bigger feat of banning plastic cups, cutlery, and plates by 2020, which met with resistance as it violates free trade of European Union. A Brussels packaging company secretary, whose organization represents packaging manufacturers have appealed to the European Union to take action against the ban.

Watch this short video I pulled from Before The Flood with Gregory Mankiw speaking about carbon tax. It’s a part of documentary by National Geographic with Leonardo DiCaprio as our host.

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In case you missed it, the key point of this video, for me, is to understand carbon tax or not, we’ll have to take responsibility in some form, or pay for the ones who do it for us.

Indian Plastic Record

The Dark Side

32% of seventy-eight million tons of plastic packaging finds it’s way into the oceans. According to Science Journal, India is 12th largest in 20 countries who annually dump a total 83% of total 8.8 million tons of plastic waste in the oceans.

The Bright Side

Let’s look at what’s already been established.

  1. Himachal Pradesh was the first state to ban plastic bags.
  2. Sikkim, the first completely fossil fuel free state banned not just bags, but bottles and food containers made from polystyrene of non-disposable plastic.
  3. Karnataka became the first state to ban all forms of plastic including items made of thermacol and plastic which uses plastic micro beads.
Sign that reads ‘Polythene bags thinner than 30 µm are prohibited in Kasaragod, Kerala, India.’ Photo: Wikipedia.

This year(2017) the capital of the country, Delhi has imposed a ban on disposable plastic. Let’s not forget it’s the severely air polluted city in 1,600 cities, the worst of them really. So a ban on plastic is a really big win for climate and sea life. It was imposed from the 1st January 2017, but apparently out of all the people I know in Delhi only a handful few know about it. Granted my sample size isn’t as big, but even who do know, say that it’s not being implemented properly.

As I see it there are two ways, we as citizens reduce its use. OR we use it extensively and have it cleaned up and recycled(which is twice the effort).

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Ayush Agarwal

I am a namesake Engineer, Nascent writer, football fanatic, confused being. That's it, really.

About the Author

Ayush Agarwal

I am a namesake Engineer, Nascent writer, football fanatic, confused being. That's it, really.

Read more from Ayush