Day 71 – Q.1 Analyze the impact of plastic waste on marine ecosystems, and the measures taken by the government and other stakeholders to reduce plastic pollution. Discuss the opportunities and challenges in promoting sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics.

  • IASbaba
  • February 6, 2023
  • 0
Disaster Management, Environment, GS 3, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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Analyze the impact of plastic waste on marine ecosystems, and the measures taken by the government and other stakeholders to reduce plastic pollution. Discuss the opportunities and challenges in promoting sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics.

समुद्री पारिस्थितिक तंत्र पर प्लास्टिक कचरे के प्रभाव और प्लास्टिक प्रदूषण को कम करने के लिए सरकार और अन्य हितधारकों द्वारा किए गए उपायों का विश्लेषण करें। एकल-उपयोग वाले प्लास्टिक के स्थायी विकल्पों को बढ़ावा देने के अवसरों और चुनौतियों पर चर्चा करें।


A simple straightforward question where candidates need to write about impact  of plastic waste on marine ecosystem and govt measures to curb plastic pollution,in second part of answer write about sustainable alternatives for single use plastics.


Plastic has become one of the most pressing environmental issues that we are facing today. India is generating about 3.5 million tonnes of plastic waste annually.plastic waste generation impacts marine ecosystem badly hence there is urgent need  for promoting sustainable alternatives for single use plastics.


Impacts of Marine Plastic Waste-

  • Plastic waste blocks our sewers, threatening marine life and generating health risks for residents in landfills or the natural environment.
  • The financial costs of marine plastic pollution are significant as well.
  • According to a forecast made in March 2020, the direct harm to the blue economy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will be USD 2.1 billion per year.
  • Enormous social costs accompany these economic costs. Residents of coastal regions suffer from the harmful health impacts of plastic pollution and waste brought in by the tides.
  • Boats may become entangled in abandoned or discarded fishing nets or their engines may become blocked with plastic debris.
  • It can create problems for industries such as Shipping, fisheries and aquaculture and maritime tourism which affect livelihood of the coastal community.

Steps Taken So Far:

  • GloLitter Partnerships Project:It is launched by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and . initial funding from the Government of Norway.
  • To prevent and reduce marine plastic litter from shipping and fisheries.
  • It will also assist developing countries in reducing marine litter, including plastic litter, from within the maritime transport and fisheries sectors, and to decrease the use of plastics in these industries.
  • Also assist in identifying opportunities to reuse and recycle plastics.
  • 30 countries including India have joined this global initiative to tackle marine litter.
  • World Environment Day, 2018 hosted in India, the world leaders vowed to “Beat Plastic Pollution” & eliminate its use completely.

Specific to India:

  • Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 state that every local body has to be responsible for setting up infrastructure for segregation, collection, processing, and disposal of plastic waste.
  • Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018 introduced the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
  • Designing a product: Identifying plastic items that can be replaced with non-plastic, recyclable, or biodegradable materials is the first step.
  • Countries must embrace circular and sustainable economic practices throughout the plastics value chain to accomplish this.
  • Pricing: Plastics are inexpensive which provide fewer economic incentives to employ recycled plastics. Balancing price structure with environmental health should be a priority.
  • Technologies and Innovation: Developing tools and technology to assist governments in measuring and monitoring plastic garbage in cities.
  • India should start projects like the ‘Closing the loop’ project of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific which assists cities in developing more inventive policy solutions to tackle the problem.
  • Promoting a plastic-free workplace: All single-use goods can be replaced with reusable items or more sustainable single-use alternatives.
  • Producer responsibility: Extended responsibility can be applied in the retail (packaging) sector, where producers are responsible for collecting and recycling products that they launch into the market.
  • Municipal and community actions: Beach and river clean-ups, public awareness campaigns and disposable plastic bag bans and levies.
  • Multi-stakeholder collaboration: Government ministries at the national and local levels must collaborate in the development, implementation and oversight of policies related to plastic waste management.
  • Recently, the researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru (IISc) have found a way to make a substitute for single-use plastic (SUP) that can, in principle, help mitigate the problem of accumulating plastic waste in the environment.

Key Points

  • In the research, Non-edible Castor oil was used in this process of making the polymer which involves allowing them to react with the cellulose (from agriculture stubble) and DI-isocyanate
  • These polymers can be molded into sheets having properties suitable for making bags, cutlery or containers.
  • The material so made is biodegradable, leak-proof and non-toxic.

Possible Advantages-

  • Addressing the Problem of Single use Plastics (SUP): Given the surge in the usage of single use plastics and the challenge of managing the landfills choked with SUPs, such alternatives could bring paradigm shift especially in the packaging sector, the largest consumer of SUP.
  • Tackling Agricultural Stubble Problem: Agricultural stubble burning is responsible for air pollution in several northern states in India.
  • In Delhi, for example, the air quality index dips to indicate “severe” or “hazardous” level of pollution every winter, and this is due in part to the burning of agricultural stubble in the surrounding regions.
  • Using agriculture stubble for replacement of single use plastics will not address the problem of air pollution, but will generate additional income opportunities for farmers also.
  • Use in Healthcare Facilities: As the material is biodegradable and non-toxic, researchers are planning to use the material for healthcare applications also.

Conclusion –

According to a report all the plastic waste produced in the world, 80% enters the environment. Accumulation of plastic waste is detrimental to the environment and when this waste finds its way into the sea, there can be major harm to aquatic ecosystems,Countries must embrace circular and sustainable economic practices throughout the plastics value chain to reduce plastic pollution.

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