HISTORICAL AND SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND
What is polythene:
Polythene is a type of polymer that is classified as a thermoplastic, meaning that it can be melted to a liquid and remolded as it returns to a solid state. As the name implies, Polythene is chemically synthesized from molecules that contain long chains of ethylene, a monomer that provides the ability to double bond with other carbon-based monomers to form polymers. Polythene is known by other, non-official names, such as polythene in the United Kingdom. In addition, it is sometimes spelled as Polythene, or abbreviated to simply PE.
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 chemical company devised a method to consistently produce Polythene under the same conditions. As a result, Polythene became the primary source of low-density Polythene (LDPE) production in 1939.
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, shampoo bottles, milk containers, toys, and the common plastic bag used to tote groceries home from the store. However, Polythene is also present in numerous other products that contain plastic components. For instance, it is used to manufacture artificial knee and hip replacement parts, bulletproof vests, and even glassy flooring for ice skating rinks.
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 hydrogen. Otherwise, a linear structure of carbon to hydrogen occurs, which is known as high-density Polythene (HDPE). However, further variances in structure and molecular weight produce other forms, such as ultra-high molecular weight Polythene (UHMWPE), medium-density Polythene (MDPE), or very low-density Polythene (VLDPE).
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.
Self-Responsibility (public /stakeholders)
Every day we all contribute to the pollution of our environment by accepting polythene bags at the vegetable 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 buy
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. Length of time, some common materials takes to decompose.
|Banana||3 to 4 weeks|
|Paper bag||1 month|
|Orange peels||upto 2 months|
|Cigarette butts||1 to 5 months|
|Woolen cloths||1 to 5 months|
|Nylon fabric||30 to 40 months|
|Leather boot||upto 50 months|
|Rubber sole (of a boot)||50 to 80 years|
|Tin cans (soup or sauce)||80 to 100 years|
|Aluminum cans||200 to 500 years|
|Glass bottles||unknown forever|
A first step should be a big clean-up drive in which all citizens of Jammu should participate.
A Future without taking responsibility:
A possible scenario for Jammu in the future, if self-responsibility is not taken seriously by all citizens of the city.
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 Jammu 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 Jammu 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 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, The Jammu Municipal Corporation has implemented the Non Bio-degradable Material (Management Handling and Disposal) Act 2007 regarding the Ban on Polythene carry bags use whose notification issued vide SRO No. 122 dated 10.05.2009. The Corporation constituted Anti Polythene Squad, The Anti Polythene Squad inspected / raided different areas of Jammu City and seized / destroyed huge quantity of banned polythene carry bags from different vegetable vendors, fruit vendors etc. The seized banned polythene carry bags were got destroyed in presence of general public. The steps taken by the Jammu Municipal Corporation were appreciated by every corner of the society.The Jammu Municipal Corporation has implemented the Non Bio-degradable Material (Management Handling and Disposal) Act 2007 regarding the Ban on Polythene carry bags use whose notification issued vide SRO No. 122 dated 10.05.2009.
- Use of Polythene Carry bags almost eliminated within Municipal limits
- Special drives being carried out on regular basis to keep a check on the use of Polythene.
- Violators are punished under the act.
- Violators being booked at Narwal Mandi, Jammu.
- 2469 Kg of Polythene seized from June 09 to March 2010.
- Rs 87750 realized as penalty from defaulter/violators.
- 68 drives carried out.
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.