There always has been a view point that burning plastic helps us in the reduction of waste and this is a reason that about 12% (756 Million Metric Tonnes) of plastic waste generated in this world is burnt. However, have we ever wondered the hazardous impact that plastic burning has?
Burning of plastic waste in an open field is a major source of air pollution and is dangerous to human & environment health. When burnt gas like Carbon Monoxide, Dioxins and Furans are released into the air. Scary is that studies have linked Dioxins and Furans to cancer and respiratory diseases.
Interestingly, Plastic bags and bottles are the most common type of plastic that are burnt. Gases releases after burning of plastic may increase risk of heart disease, worsen respiratory illnesses – asthma & emphysema, causes rashes, nausea or headaches, damages the nervous system, kidney, liver and reproductive systems in the body. Dioxins tend to settle on crops and waterways eventually leading to the food we consume. As per the estimate by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the plastic consumption in India, is 8 million tons per annum and about 5.7 million tons of plastic is converted into waste annually.
According to National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, open burning of plastic waste emits dioxins and furans that are estimated to be 8656.55 gTEQ (Grams of Toxicity Equivalency Quantity) annually. 44.65% of Kerala’s population is involved in burning of plastic and so, The Kerala High Court has banned burning of plastic in June 2018, in public spaces as it adds to 29.4% of Air pollution. In December 2016, The National Green Tribunal banned burning of plastics on the flood plains of river Ravi as it leads to severe water and air pollution Himachal Pradesh.
Burning of plastic also releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere causing climate change. This also affects the wildlife as these pollutants cause deformed offspring, reproductive system failure, immune related diseases and neurobehavioral effects in them.
Burning plastic is one of the most serious environmental disasters today. There is always a decision that brings change. This is not something that cannot be solved.
“Manthan”, an initiative by Hindustan Zinc, is a series of stories to bring awareness about various concerns like air pollution, water pollution, plastic pollution, noise pollution, climate change, road safety and wildlife protection.