A Lightweight, versatile, cost-effective and readily available, plastics have become an indispensible part of our daily lives. From plastic bottles, bags and wrappers to micro beads and micro plastics; plastics are omnipresent. By now, it is universally accepted that plastics are harmful not only for the environment but also to human beings. The graveness of consequence of plastic use outweighs its uses. Plastics have become so deeply integrated into our lives that at first glance it seems almost impossible to live without them. Even though the battle against plastic pollution is the one which most have given up on; it is a battle for the well being of environment and people, which we have to win.
The Maharashtra Government has recently taken a step in the right direction by introducing a complete ban on plastic including its production, use, storage, sale, distribution, import and transportation. Similar steps have been taken by many other states, but need strict implementation to bring in change. With a little conscious effort on the part of common people and strict implementation on the ground level, these bans, in fact, can potentially pave the way to an age where sustainability and innovation drive our society.
Starting from banana fiber, liquid glass, hemp, sugarcane pulp to bamboo, the alternatives to plastics are plenty. Entrepreneurs all over the country are coming up with innovations in a plethora of product ranges like cutlery, daily utility, personal care and hygiene, tableware and clothing to deal with problems posed by plastics at the grassroot level.
According to statistics, India produces 15,342 tons of plastic waste every day. By replacing plastic with biodegradable alternatives, a monumental change can be brought into the environmental domain. There are only countable areas in our country that are not infested with plastic cups, wrappers and packaging. Now imagine if those were made of materials that are easily biodegradable or compostable. The same amount of waste that takes 500 years to decompose could get decomposed in 3-4 months and turn into manure for the soil, nurturing nature with more greenery. Does it not give a beautiful, picturesque of clean and green nature? The good news is that it is actually not too good to be true.
Biodegradable substitutes are not only for the environmentally conscious. One might not be interested in the health of the planet, but what about their own health? Research strongly suggests that serving hot food and beverages in plastic tableware releases carcinogens like bisphenol A (BPA) that may cause cancer and may also cause birth defects in babies of expecting mothers. However, this scenario can be easily avoided by using eco-friendly tableware products which was equally healthy for consumers. Some compostable tableware brands are offering products, which are brown in colour, not white for a reason – the white colour comes from chemical treatment which can further trigger health problems. By choosing biodegradable tableware products, you are choosing health as priority.
Moreover, with ban of plastic in multiple states, the only way forward is eco-friendly products which are biodegradable. Taking the case of Maharashtra, new avenues have opened for entrepreneurs and innovators offering environment friendly alternative to plastic. Not just from environment perspective, such a step can provide a huge platform for employment generation.
Humanity is the key to make positive changes in the society. Human mind is the greatest creator and inventor. Hence, we and only we can make a positive change. It is important that we take corrective as well as preventive measures to save what is left of our planet and the lives that inhabit it.
By Ved Krishna, MD and Strategy Head, Yash Papers