The History Of Plastic Use & Its Dangerous Influence On Climate Change – Part I

There is no living in denial about climate change anymore! It was around World War 2 in the USA that plastic became a fad, maybe because people were not prophesying survival of themselves, forget reasoning about the survival of the planet. The term ‘consumer’ emerged and disposable versions of everyday household objects took over markets all around the world steadily. Items built for the war effort got redirected to civilians. Plastic is one of the most universal materials in the economy and among the most steadfast pollutants on Earth causing climate change. The three decades- 50s to 70s witnessed a use and throw culture on a rise which now has resulted in panic across boundaries.

Here is a vintage ad glorifying the freedom of throwaway and this was when the whole thing began-

Over 25 State governments in India may have to pay environment compensation of ₹1 crore each for not submitting their action plans on systematic disposal of plastic waste to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) as the April 30 deadline set by the National Green Tribunal has expired long ago.

Explaining the cause of non-compliance by State governments, NGO Indian Pollution Control Association (IPCA) Chairman Ashish Jain said there was lack of knowledge among State authorities and a communication gap between State and central government officials. He exclaims, “Waste management is the last in the list of priorities of municipal corporations. The need to conduct awareness programs to educate state-level officials to carry out necessary measures to segregate plastic and dispose of it.”

On Goa Statehood Day, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday swore that he would take the responsibility of treating waste generated in government offices, while also nominating three others, including the Leader of Opposition, to take similar responsibilities in a bid towards a ‘Clean Goa, Green Goa’. Addressing a press conference at his official residence, Mr. Sawant said that he would be setting up bio-digesters in all government offices to treat the waste while also urging citizens to set up similar bio-digester units at home.

The authors of the report by the Center for International Environmental Law, estimate the greenhouse gas footprint of plastic from the cradle to the grave for the first time. “At current levels, greenhouse gas emissions from the plastic lifecycle threaten the ability of the global community to keep global temperature rise below 1.5C,” the report says. The authors also say disposable plastic found in packaging and fast-moving consumer goods forms the largest and fastest-growing segment of the plastic economy.

Companies are thinking that any alternative to plastic is better and this is a terrible mistake. With the petrochemical and plastic industries planning a massive expansion in production, the global pandemic seems never-ending. The challenges to them, however, are-

Nearly all plastic – 99% – is made from fossil fuels.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) assessments to determine objectively which is the best environmental packaging option, regardless of the material.

Strategies focused on reducing the multilayer structures either by materials as compatible as possible from the point of view of recycling or by the use of coatings that can obtain good properties with less quantity of material.

Waste management process in terms of collection, separation, and recycling to make the process both technically and financially viable. Incineration creates the most CO2 emissions among the plastic waste management methods.

By the end of 2015, 8.3bn metric tonnes of plastic had been produced – two-thirds of which has been released into the environment and remains there. Forty percent of plastic packaging waste is disposed of at sanitary landfills, 14% goes to incineration facilities and 14% is collected for recycling. But how well engineered is recycling in this era of climate change? Is plastic banned from the countries producing the most plastic pollution? Have we realized yet that climate change impacting wildlife around the world could endanger us humans and bring us to an end of the world?


The History Of Plastic Use & Its Dangerous Influence On Climate Change – Part II

This article has been contributed by SUBAH.

SUBAH is an enabler of CSR rendering research and advisory services on CSR in India to industry, businesses and non-profit organizations. They enable alliances between organizations with corresponding social purposes and conduct research on CSR impact. With a mission to build an enduring and sustainable culture for a better tomorrow, Subah is assembling an ever-growing diverse community of conscious stakeholders, groups, & citizens. Connect with them at [email protected].