- World Environment Day 2018 is focused on tackling pollution from ubiquitous plastic, a man-made material that is cheap, lightweight, durable, easy to produce and usable in myriad ways. But plastic does not decompose.
Tonnes of plastic:
- Of the 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic produced since 1950, 76% has been discarded but stubbornly survives.
- Every year, 13 million tonnes of plastic leaks into the ocean, harming the marine environment, water systems, biodiversity, economies and human health. It is time to rethink the way the world manufactures, uses and manages plastic.
- Reducing single-use or disposable plastic products such as plastic bags and packaging is a step forward.
- Proper collection, disposal and recycling of existing singleuse plastic products are vital but not enough.
- Proper enforcement of existing rules and regulations is essential, and India’s track record on enforcement of environmental norms is far from stellar.
More than abatement:
- tackling pollution and improving the planet’s environmental health, prospects for sustained economic growth and human well-being will require more than abatement.
- Current consumption and production systems pay little heed to either the finite nature of resources or the problem of waste.
- The world needs more sustainable patterns of consumption and production: we are effectively living beyond our resources.
- Growing economies like India must shift to resource-efficient production and consumption systems that curtail waste. Persisting with business-as-usual will lead to further environmental degradation — poor air, water and land — endangering efforts to improve lives and livelihoods.
- As hosts of the World Environment Day 2018, India must take this lesson to heart and make it the centrepiece of its development strategy.