HISTORICAL AND SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND
What is polythene:
Polythene is a type of
The first laboratory creation of Polythene occurred in 1898 by accident at the hands of “Hans von Pechmann” while applying heat to another compound the German chemist previously discovered i,e., diazomethane. Ironically, the synthesis of Polythene via extreme heat and pressure in an industrial setting was again made by accident, but 35 years later. A few years later, another chemist employed by the same England-based
While Polythene is essential to the economic health of the plastics industry, most consumers readily recognize the role it plays in everyday life. In fact, this substance is found in many ordinary household items, such as food wrap,
Polythene may fall under one of several types. The distinction between them is determined by its molecular weight and branching, which is affected by its crystallization. LDPE is an example of branched Polythene since its carbon molecules are attached to long chains of Polythene instead of
While Polythene may help to make numerous useful and durable products possible, its environmental impact is cause for concern. For one thing, it does not readily biodegrade and can reside in a landfill for hundreds of years.
Polytheneare frequently used in as packing materials. Polythenewas introduced as a substitute to the paper bags which were initially used for packing especially the light commodities. As a result polythene wastes, this has indeed been a hazard to the environment but first, the description of this substance.
Polythene bags can best be defined as a non-biodegradable substance that is used by the majority as packing materials. Despite the fact that they are cheap as well as light, they are hazardous in the following ways;
- The fact that they are non-biodegradable makes them hard to dispose and as a result, they can act as breeding places for many of the disease germs which, sooner than later cause an epidemic in the surrounding people.
- The fact that they are very light also makes it very easy for them to be blown from place to place and as a result, the unending littering of the environment.
- Some of these bags have been used by a number of ignorant or careless people as mobile toilets considering their light nature. These mobile toilets are then carelessly thrown away to unknown areas which also make work of the concerned parties rather hard.
- These polythene bags have over time been proven to be environmentally unfriendly considering the time taken for their decomposition. As a result of this time spun they can cause further problems like blocking water penetration into the soil which in turn affects food growth and development.
Polythene are therefore the most outstanding of all the waste in the homes and are hard to dispose off. They affect the environment in a number of ways with some very adverse effects.
CAUSES OF POOR POLYTHENE WASTE DISPOSAL
Polythene are cheap and therefore the majority can afford them. They are therefore widely used as packing bags in the country with the biggest percentage of the users in the urban areas.
In addition the polythene bags are easy to carry and therefore most of the people in our City find them very convenient to carry and portable bgcolor="#B6C8F3" . As a result they are widely used in the City.
Most of the people in the country also find the polythene easy to dispose off after use. They are very light and someone can easily throw away the polythene after use. This has increased on the abundance of the polythene waste.
Ignorance of the people, who don't care about the effects of proper waste disposal, and who may not know about the effects of improper waste disposal. They therefore dump the polythene bags carelessly.
Negligence of some of the people who have the “I don’t care attitude” towards proper waste management.These may be literate but with no concern for the environment at all. They therefore deposit the polythene bags anywhere after use.
As there were lack of strict laws as regards the dumping of polythene bags from the government. The people who are seen throwing away the polythene bags in City are not punished and this has led to the continuous improper disposal of the waste.
EFFECTS OF POOR POLYTHENE WASTE DISPOSAL ON THE ENVIRONMENT.
Loss of soil fertility:
Due to the careless disposal of the “polythenes” in the country, the areas where they have been deposited in large quantities have lost soil fertility. This is mainly because the they cannot rot and decompose and therefore cannot lead to the formation of good soils. The polythene bags have also got an acidic combination which with time disturbs the chemical formulas of the soils.
The poor disposal of the polythene bags can also lead to the spread of diseases. This is because the polythene bags can easily block the sewerage and water pipes which can eventually lead to the spread of the Diseases e.g the break out of cholera in Kampala in 1997.They cannot also cause water logging since the water cannot percolate through them and this can be a good breeding ground for some of the vectors which spread diseases.
Un-neccessary littering of the polythene bags on the roadsides destroys the beautiful scenery. If the polythene are carelessly thrown all over the place, they make the environment very untidy and unpleasant to look at. This is the case in some parts of the city.
Poor soil aeration and drainage.
This is because the polythene bags cannot allow the water to pass through them so easily. As a result the soil is not well aerated and this is because they are non-biodegradable and water cannot easily percolate through them.
Death of domestic animals specially the cows and the goats after eating the polythene bags. This clearly show that waste if mismanaged can be very dangerous to the environment.
MAIN ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS.
Disease today in our country, a result of breeding of the various kinds of disease carrying organisms in large numbers. This has been made very possible due to the large numbers of non-biodegradable polythene wastes that are widely spread around the city streets. These waste materials act as a breeding place for the various disease carriers like the deadly female anopheles mosquito that spreads malaria, they also rare germs like the cholera germ which has lead to the death of millions of people.
INCREASED SOIL INFERTILITY
The soil has also not been spared by the continued dumping of the poor polythene waste disposal. Lots of land is continually lost to this cause in that; when the polythene bags enter into the soil, they block further passage of mineral salts and oxygen to the soil. These, if properly analyzed are the main components that make up the soil fertility. When blocked the soil is unable to yield crops properly this can cause several problems to the peasant “farmers” and consumers.
BLOCKAGE OF WATER SYSTEMS
Water is another sector that is highly important to man but has been disturbed by these polythene waste materials and as an after effect, man is affected in various ways that can not be fully listed. Water systems like springs, ponds, rivers etc. are blocked during continued damping of these polythene materials along the shore, the water flow is affected and may be stopped causing floods, disease habitation and unpleasant scenery.
The scenery of the various places where wastes are disposed can only best be defined as improper for human settlement and as such , when wastes are poorly disposed, we end up having the beautiful natural environment losing its beauty this may scare away many tourists and visitors in an area .
Dal Lake - Our Future Paradise
Not a day passes without a report on the condition of the once famous and now dying Dal Lake.
Not a day passes without someone accusing someone else for the deteriorating and devastating condition of the lake. We have all heard it and we have all read it many times.
But is there anything that is really being done to prevent Dal Lake from becoming a dead body of water, devoid of life and teeming with pollution?
The alarming fact is that not much and as good as nobody is doing anything about this environmental tragedy.
Why? Because most of us have other priorities – priorities such as having an easy life. No headaches, no responsibilities, and no willingness to bear consequences. We allow ourselves to live in an illusion – the illusion that someone else will take care of our environment on or behalf. Someone else, be it the government or some private institution, will fix everything.
Millions of Rupees have been spent by the government to Save Dal Lake. It is strange that we all simply wait for some a positive outcome because so much money is being spent to clean up the lake. How can it be that no improvement is seen?
Where is this money being spent? Or is money not enough to save Dal Lake?
In order to analyze the situation we may have to go a bit deeper into Indian and Kashmiri mentality.
Throughout history the people of India have put great emphasis on the accumulation of personal wealth and on better living standards for their families. Great efforts are made to achieve these goals.
Getting involved in finding solutions for problems outside one’s family, for society on a local or state level, has for most Indians little or no importance.
With such a complex social system that India has with its caste system, social responsibility, and taking up an active, role in solution finding is also prevalent in regard of the complex problematic concerning Dal Lake.
We all know about the incredible pollution, we all see it every day but still we don’t act accordingly. We don’t come forward with ideas, we don’t even discuss anything concrete that could be doen to help and no one makes an kind of personal efforts in order to share the great responsibility we all have to save Dal Lake and our valley’s once beautiful nature.
For a while now.We know that our Mother Earth is suffering from fever – climate change has led to record temperatures world-wide.
Self-Responsibility (public /stakeholders)
Every day we all contribute to the pollution of our environment by accepting polythene bags at the vegetable bgcolor="#B6C8F3" seller and grocery shops. We buy millions chips bags, plastic bottles and other items that are packed in a very environmentally unfriendly way.
We do have the choice of what products we by
If we were all to boycott plastic bottles and chips bags and manufacturers would immediately think of more environmentally friendly packing materials for their products
If we insist on a recycling system we will get it.
As consumers we have much more power than we think we have.
We should ask ourselves before buying a product. “Do I really need this?”
If the answer is yes, we could ask ourselves “Is the product I am about to buy of a lasting quality?”
The following measures might be ones that all of us could implement immediately to help reverse the negative impact we have on our delicate Mother Earth.
Do not accept polythene bags from different shopkeepers but bring your own bag to market.
Avoid as much as possible products that are packed in non-biodegradable packaging.
Avoid plastic disposable dishes at fast food places and ask the owners to provide reusable plates and glasses.
Buy products that are packaged with eco-friendly materials.
Have your own bottle with you and refill it at your home with drinking water.
Buy quality products that last for a long time
Don’t use your car if not necessary
Use public transportation whenever possible.
And most important
We should not litter on the roadsides and definitely not in any water body.
We should also not allow others to dos so if we witness someone littering Dal Lake or any other water body, we should try to educate that person about his/her harmful action.
Length of time, some common materials takes to decompose.
Rubber sole (of a boot)
Tin cans (soup or sauce)
3 to 4 weeks
upto 2 months
1 to 5 months
1 to 5 months
30 to 40 months
upto 50 months
50 to 80 years
80 to 100 years
200 to 500 years
If we look at the above chart it shows us that we have a real problem here in Kashmir where literally millions of polythene bags or other materials are scattered allover the city and the Valley. Also millions of them are found in the water bodies, if it takes decades to decompose our main visible polluter, the polythene bag, then we have to ask ourselves do we want to live for decades with these plastic bags in each and every corner of the Valley or do we want get up and in a joint action collect the garbage in the City and in Dal Lake and dispose it off?
A first step should be a big clean-up drive in which all citizens of Srinagar should participate.
A Future without taking responsibility:
A possible scenario for Srinagar in the future, if self-responsibility is not taken seriously by all citizens of the valley.
The rich will become richer and will build huge houses behind huge walls.
To show their wealth and power they want a house bigger than their neighbours house, so obviously houses will be built bigger and bigger.
Within 20 years, no clean water will be available
Within a few short years, there will be no clean food due to pollution of the soil, no clean air due to air pollution and no forests will be left.
The heat may become unbearable but those who can afford will have a/c.
Now tell, we will enjoy even the biggest house when there are no resources left? What will children ask their fathers? How could you allow all of our natural resources to be destroyed? Was there nothing that you could have done to prevent this?
Emphasis should be put on the use of paper / cloth bags. This is because the paper bags are also light and they can easily decompose. They should therefore act as the substitute for the polythene bags.
The paper / cloth bag industries should be encouraged.
Education among masses to avoid use of polythene bags. The masses should be sensitized about the dangers of the polythene bags.
We should educate the masses that not to burnt any polythene bags themselves as it may cause air pollution,
Laws and legislations should be put in place regarding the use of polythene bags. The people who are seen using the polythene bags even while moving should be penalized.
Local Action projects should be emphasized by the students whereby the students move to the neighbouring communities to have them cleaned up and also carry out the seminars to sensitize the masses about the dangers of polythene bags.
We have to ask ourselves what we have to lose, and how easy is it for us to help our surroundings, our environment, our children’s future?
What is at stake here is not less than everything.
Unless we take action now we are slowly but surely destroying the basic requirements for life.
With just a bit more awareness at the seriousness of our actions, what there is to win is a place that becomes beautiful and a paradise.
In the future for our children and their children.
The use of polythene is not environment friendly. Medical reports find it is an agent of cancer, skin diseases and other health problems. The users are more exposed to these types of health hazards when polythene is used to pack bread, biscuits, patato chips or other food items. In the developed countries, food is wrapped in food graded plastic or polyethylene, but in Srinagar this was not strictly followed and sometimes colorants are used, some of which may be carcinogenic.
It can be said that, banning of polyethylene has achieved its success with a little residue left. People in general has accepted it. Now the city bins and garbage dumping sites are almost free from polythene carry bags. They look much cleaner now. The City drains are no longer clogged with polyethylene carry bags. Polyethylene carry bags manufacturers have now been engaged in the production of alternative bags and an additional huge number of jobs have been created in this sector.
The historic decision for banning polythene carry bags not only ensured environmental benefits for the country it also created a great opportunity for generation of more employment and alleviating poverty in rural areas. The rejection of a non-biodegradable product by an entire city is probably a unique example Srinagar has set with people’s participation under a popular government. This pro-environment decision can be repeated in other areas of nation building activities in other parts of the world to turn our only planet, the earth, habitable bgcolor="#B6C8F3" for human beings.
Anti Polythene Campaign
Government has imposed ban in the State of Jammu & Kashmir on use of polythene carry bags under SRO-122 issued under Section 17 of the Jammu and Kashmir Non-Biodegradable Material (Management, Handling and Disposal) Act, 2007. Accordingly, Srinagar Municipal Corporation implemented ban within its limits. The Corporation constituted Anti Polythene Squad, comprising of Three Anti Polythene Officers and Twenty four Anti polythene Workers. The Anti Polythene Campaign started on 14th May 2009 from Burn Hall School, It drew attention of the electronic and print media. A number of non-government organizations and public leaders came forward to support the campaign. However, anti polythene campaign was picking up steadily and spread from Srinagar City to other cities and towns. The procession and rallies were spontaneously participated by people from all walks of life including students and housewives.
The Anti Polythene Squad inspected / raided different areas of Srinagar City and seized / destroyed huge quantity of banned polythene carry bags from different vegetable bgcolor="#B6C8F3" vendors, fruit vendors etc. etc. The seized banned polythene carry bags were got destroyed in presence of general public. The steps taken by the Corporation were appreciated by every corner of the society. The squad have recovered more than 2 lacs as fine from different offenders. The month-wise details of the seized banned polythene are as under:
From 14th May upto 31st May 2009
As an alternative of having to suffer the unending plight of environmental down fall, we would suggest that an alternative means of packaging materials should be encouraged and as such the use of polythene bags should be banned.