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India braces for the plastic challenge

Jun 05, 2018

With politicians, celebrities and civil society joining hands to combat the menace, tackling plastic promises to become the new agenda.

World Environment Day 2018 is an environment day with a difference – with celebrities including cricketers, cine-artists, godmen and even sand artists joining the political leadership voice this year’s environment day theme.

India is hosting World Environment Day 2018 and the celebrations with the UN Environment chief in the country has been joined by a galaxy of ministers, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi exhorting citizens to shun plastics.

World Environmental Day is celebrated every year on June 5 with an aim at “encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment”.  World Environmental Day 2018 focuses on beating plastic pollution. India pledges to beat the plastic menace by drastically reducing the production and use of single- use and low value plastic.

The UN has chosen to look at pollution from plastics because the substance is increasingly becoming a source of pollution and a global hazard that can afflict air, water and land pollution and cause harm to life on the planet as well.

Scientists and civil society activists point out how, due to its complex structure and its long life, plastic is a menace that cannot just be addressed through the mantra of reduce, reuse or recycle. This also comes at a time when plastic production stands at an all time high and a ready market as people have not been sufficiently persuaded to switching to alternatives.

India's minister for environment, forest, and climate, Dr Harsh Vardhan said in a press statement that “India is excited to host the World Environment Day this year on June 5. Indian philosophy and lifestyle has long been rooted in the concept of co-existence with nature. We are committed towards making Planet Earth a cleaner and greener place”, said Dr. Harsh Vardhan.

He added: “If each and every one of us does at least one green good deed daily towards our Green Social Responsibility, there will be billions of green good deeds daily on the planet.”

Cine actor Dia Mirza who is UN Environment’s goodwill ambassador has initiated an online ‘Tag Challenge’, encouraging her followers on social media platforms to share a video or picture of them showing a sustainable alternative to a plastic product that they have replaced.

Environmentalists estimate that at least 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans each year, the equivalent of a full garbage truck every minute. Global demand has contributed to production over the past decade exceeding the production of the previous century – over half of it being single-use or disposable. For instance, a million plastic bottles marketed (and thrashed) every minute account for a tenth of all waste generated across the world.

“Beat plastic pollution” is a call to action for the world to come together to combat one of the biggest environmental challenges of the century. The theme encourages people to consider how making changes in their everyday lives to reduce the burden of plastic pollution in the biosphere.

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