Reality check – The exponential increase in human population over the past few decades has paralleled global surge of plastic production and consumption. This ensuing an ever increasing menace of plastic pollution swathing Earth’s biodiversity and the natural resources.

Reality check - plastic pollution our daily companion

The brighter side of the grim picture of plastic pollution shows that plastic – a synthetic organic polymer – is making our lives easier by fuelling many industries. This include automobiles, building and construction to electronics, transportation, and packaging.

As a result, this exaggerated and unsustainable use of resources is challenging nature’s capacity. Consequently, we have to a higher price. Hence, after a decade from now, we’ll be paying this price for the “boon”. This has already perturbed the Mother Nature rousing serious environmental concerns.

The bleak picture

The world today is using 5 trillion plastic bags every year. This equaling 10 million plastic bags every 60 seconds; and few of us will have realization that a single-use plastic bag takes 1,000 years to decompose.

In brief, if plastic consumption continues at the current pace, we would have been producing 1,124 million tonnes of plastic by 2050. Ultimately, the bulk of which will find its way into trenches on land, deepest ocean beds and in altitudes of mountains. Hence, destroying species and damaging their natural habitats at rates far greater than nature can recover.

A cursory look at the facts shows that every year, 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in oceans. And by 2050, plastic in the oceans would have outnumbered the marine life.

Plastic pollution in oceans

The greatest physical evidence of plastic waste pollution is “five” garbage patches housed in Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This composed of plastic soup submerged in the stillness of the water. These garbage islands have taken a heavy toll on marine creatures that are found ensnarled in plastic bags and being choked to death after ingesting plastic bottles.

To add fuel to the fire, chemical decomposition of plastic takes what we call ages. For this reason, moving down into the oceans, sunlight loses its intensity and consequently slows down the chemical breakdown of plastic. The plastic, however, undergoes physical fragmentation into particles of <5mm in size known as micro-plastic particles.

Our oceans already contain 51 trillion of these particles poisoning marine biodiversity. As a result, the micro-plastic particles move from one tier of food chain to another ultimately ending up in the human bodies rendering them susceptible to ailments.

Plastic pollution tackling 

This bleak picture is a wake-up call for galvanizing action against plastic pollution. Therefore, we have to take holistic approach to tackle this menace before it eclipses our planet and suffocates the life therein.

Thus, this situation calls for combined efforts of governmental bodies, corporate sector, donors, lobbyists, communities and most importantly the civil society. Many governmental bodies around the world have already accepted the challenge. They are taking initiatives to eliminate plastic pollution by banning plastic use and levying plastic bags.

The countries from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe are hand-in-hand to turn the tide on plastic by reducing, reusing and recycling.

Mitigative measure

In this scenario, the Universal Global 2030 Agenda of United Nations falls into place squarely. Providing a guiding framework to drive global action for conservation of planet.

Advocating UN’s cause of social, economic and environmental sustainable development, the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS) takes on board developing nations for achieving socio-economic development through sustained use of innate resources and promoting science, technology and innovation.

While world is celebrating Environment Day this year; in the meanwhile, let’s take a pledge to beat plastic pollution. Thus, the best practical approach is reducing its “footprints” around the globe.