Solid waste management is an integral part of city development and planning. Proper waste management policies contribute to the longevity of a healthy, safe city and forms key to a city’s wholesome progress. With the rise of ‘Swachh Bharat Campaign’ by the government, cleanliness has become a much more serious issue and it has become imperative for city municipalities to invest more time, efforts, and budget to increase the sanitary conditions of the location.
Plastic Waste Management
The need to develop better solid waste management methods has become all the more important with the explosive increase in plastic waste dumping. We are surrounded by plastic in almost everything we use daily. Hence, plastic wastes in cities are proliferating at an exponential rate. In tier 1 cities alone, about hundreds of tons of plastic waste are dumped daily! And, the cause has worsened more with our faulty plastic waste management methods. Irregular, careless dumping of plastic waste everywhere has become a headache for regulatory authorities and till now we don’t have proper plans to combat this huge plastic waste explosion! We are literally drowned in plastic rubbish!
So what does this irregular dumping mean for our own source of life—Earth? Being non-biodegradable, plastics remain where they are without decomposing for eons and do irreversible damage to the environment and all life associated with it. We all know that plastic leaches harmful chemicals like carcinogens, endocrine disruptions, phthalates, heavy metals, and more when kept for a long time. So, obviously, these tons and tons of plastic waste should do the same to the soil and the consisting soil water too, right? The answer is yes and now we have an official test report to confirm this.
The Definite Proof
The study was conducted at two of the biggest dumpsites of Lucknow by the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR), sponsored by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the impact of plastic waste in soil and water. The detailed research was carried on for 18 months and control samples were taken from nearby areas. The main aim was to validate the leach ability of heavy metals — Cadmium, Cobalt, Chromium, Copper, Molybdenum, Titanium, Zinc, and Phthalate Esters used in plasticizers. What got revealed after the 18 month long research was not surprising!
As expected, the soil and water quality samples revealed significant presence of phthalates, chlorides, and heavy metals. The reason why these compounds have migrated from the plastics to the surrounding environment is because the compounds are never bonded to the plastic surface. They remain as freely mobile and leachable phase, hence migrating from plastic to the soil and water through physic-chemical exertion and microbial degradation. This heavily contaminates the surrounding soil, ground, and surface waters. What was to be most noted was that the highly hazardous phthalate Easters were much, much greater than internationally prescribed limits! The presence of heavy metals like Cadmium, Cobalt, Chromium, Copper, Molybdenum, Titanium, and Zinc were also quite higher in concentration than prescribed limits.
Plastic is the Planet’s Death Poison!
This test clearly indicates and proves the problem that’s plastic pollution or plastic bottle pollution is. Dumping of plastic waste carelessly and lack of proper plastic waste management plans are having a disastrous effect on the environment, gradually contaminating its soil and water to an extent beyond we can comprehend. When we throw away our used plastic carelessly, not sparing even a single thought, we forget what this seemingly harmless element could cause to the environment and for our future generations. Seldom do we think about the impact of our addiction to plastic. Just imagine what hundreds of tons of these items could do the environment. And, that is the daily count. The world is literally grieving with billions of tons of plastic waste choking its each and every element to gradual extinction. It’s only we who are to blame and sooner and later this would eventually spell our own final doom. Become aware and reduce your plastic use, save the world, save yourself!
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