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The US was the world's "top generator of plastic waste" in 2016, exceeding all European nations combined, The Hill reported recently.
An article, entitled "US must cut plastic production to save oceans," was published on Wednesday, citing a new study by the National Academy of Sciences.
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With a population of about 330 million, accounting for only 4.3 per cent of earth's population, the US generates a total of 42 million metric tons of such waste in 2016, the report said.
"The waste is devastating the ocean's health and marine wildlife," it reported.
"Plastic waste is an environmental and social crisis that the US needs to affirmatively address from source to sea," Margaret Spring, chair of the committee behind the report was quoted as saying in The Hill's article.
Plastic is a valuable resource that should be kept in our economy and out of our environment.Unsplash
Also read: Humans are covering Earth with Plastic
However, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) - a trade group that represents 28 companies, including oil giants, major chemical manufacturers and plastic makers - slammed the study's recommendation that plastic production should be limited, Xinhua news agency reported.
Joshua Baca, Vice President of plastics at the ACC, was quoted by the report as saying that "plastic is a valuable resource that should be kept in our economy and out of our environment."(IANS/PR)
(Keywords: US, Largest Plastic generator, Waste)
More than eight million tonnes of pandemic-associated plastic waste have been generated globally, with more than 25,000 tonnes entering the global ocean, according to an alarming study. Data from the start of the pandemic in 2020 through August 2021, showed that most of the global plastic waste entering the ocean is coming from Asia, with hospital waste representing the bulk of the land discharge.
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, highlighted that most of the global plastic waste from the pandemic is entering the ocean from rivers, with Asian rivers accounting for 73 per cent of the total discharge of plastic. The top three contributors are the Indus, Shatt al-Arab, and Yangtze rivers, which discharge into the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and East China Sea, respectively. European rivers, on the other hand, account for only 11 per cent of the discharge, with minor contributions from other continents.
Most of the global plastic waste from the pandemic is entering the ocean from rivers, with Asian rivers accounting for 73 per cent of the total discharge of plastics. | Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash
While most of the pandemic-associated plastics are expected to settle on beaches and the seafloor, a smaller amount will likely end up circulating or settling in the Arctic Ocean, which study authors said appears to be a "dead-end" for plastic debris transported into it due to ocean circulation patterns. "When we started doing the math, we were surprised to find that the amount of medical waste was substantially larger than the amount of waste from individuals, and a lot of it was coming from Asian countries, even though that's not where most of the Covid-19 cases were," said Amina Schartup, an assistant professor at Scripps Oceanography.
"The biggest sources of excess waste were hospitals in areas already struggling with waste management before the pandemic; they just weren't set up to handle a situation where you have more waste," Schartup added. To quantify the impact of the pandemic on plastic discharge from land sources, a team of researchers at Nanjing University's School of Atmospheric Sciences and University of California San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, used a newly developed ocean plastic numerical model. The model was built based on Newton's laws of motion and the law of conservation of mass.
The biggest sources of excess waste were hospitals in areas already struggling with waste management before the pandemic. | Photo by Mohammad Shahhosseini on Unsplash
The model shows that about 80 percent of the plastic debris that transits into the Arctic Ocean will sink quickly, and a circumpolar plastic accumulation zone is modeled to form by 2025. The Arctic ecosystem is already considered to be particularly vulnerable due to the harsh environment and high sensitivity to climate change. The potential ecological impacts of exposure to accumulated Arctic plastics adds another layer of concern, said the researchers.
To combat the influx of plastic waste into the oceans, the authors called for global public awareness of the environmental impact of personal protection equipment (PPE) and other plastic products, and the development of innovative technologies for better plastic waste collection, classification, treatment, and recycling, and development of more environmentally friendly materials. (IANS/ MBI)
Keyword: COVID, plastic waste, Asia, Masks, gloves, hospitals
A team of students has developed an innovative portable and low-cost machine that efficiently collects discarded plastic bags. According to recent FICCI estimates, India’s per capita plastic consumption which was pegged at 11 kilos per year in 2017 is estimated to rise to 20 kilos per year by 2022, choking landfills, drains, and rivers and flows into the seas endangering marine life.
The machine, created by six final-year engineering students from the Sona College of Technology in Salem, Tamil Nadu, is currently undergoing rigorous trials on the streets, within the Municipal limits, of the steel and textiles town. “The plastic waste collecting device is mounted on a sturdy frame with an infra-red sensor attached to a mobile vacuum chamber. It is capable of sensing plastic on the roads and attract it,” project leader TV Kishore Kumar told IANS.
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Kumar along with classmates N Javeeth Khan, R Akash, S Lokeshwar, R Dinesh Babu, and R Ilavarasan, was inspired to create this device after a call to make India plastic-free. The team integrated a shredder as an add-on accessory. It would shred the collected plastic bags. This shredded material was then mixed to concrete as a replacement for fine aggregates, thus increasing the utility of the machine and adding economic value to the waste so collected.
The machine’s add-on shredding accessory can help deploy plastic waste in useful building products like hollow blocks, paver blocks, and other non-structural components, Kumar said. (IANS/SP)
In a first of its kind of initiative, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG), is set to declare the Sector-23 market in Gorai a polythene-free zone by January 2021. For this, the civic body has already deputed its staff in the market to keep a constant vigil. The market has nearly 130 shops and more than 50 street vendors, who produce 45kg of plastic waste and polythene every day, said the MCG officials.
“We all know that plastic is harmful to us and our family but why we still use it. If we continue to use it for our own convenience, then it can be difficult for the next generation to breathe. We should stop using plastic from today itself,” said Dheeraj Kumar, Joint Commissioner, Swachh Bharat Mission, MCG. Cleanliness cannot be achieved only on behalf of the government, the Joint Commissioner added.
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“It is very important to have citizens’ participation in it. The city residents should consider it as their moral responsibility and consider Gurugram city as their home and contribute to making it clean. They must stop using single-use plastic and polyethylene. Keep wet, dry, and household waste in your house separately,” Kumar said.
For this initiative, the MCG has distributed more than 9,000 cloth bags in the market, these bags were prepared at a recently opened cloth bag bank. The corporation officials said the footfall of the visitors at the market is high as it is located just near the Delhi-Gurugram border.
The market has restaurants, eateries, jewelers, electronics, clothing, daily need shops, among others. Apart from people living in Sector-23, residents from Palam Vihar, Dundahera Village, Sector-18, Udyog Vihar, and Bijwasan in Delhi are also frequent visitors to the market.
“We would set an example by making this market the first polythene-free market in Gurugram. Most of the shopkeepers in the market have stopped using polythene and soon it will become the first polyethylene-free market,” said Kuldeep Singh, Cleanliness Brand Ambassador of MCG. (IANS)