Roadmap needed to tackle plastic pollution in the city
For every 17 kilograms of fish they catch, fishermen in the city end up with a kilogram of plastic waste, found a study by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) - Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE), Versova. Also, since the plastic ban, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board has seized 1,400 tons of plastic across the state and daily, Mumbai generates 408.27 tons of plastic waste.
These findings were presented during a discussion on plastic marine litter, organised by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the University of Mumbai (MU). Representatives of the state government, plastic industry, research bodies and non-government organisations gave inputs that will be presented to chief minister (CM) Uddhav Thackeray as a white paper.
Sanjay Sandanshiv, undersecretary (environment department), said, “All pointers discussed today will be submitted in the form of a request letter before the CM to develop a road map for the state to effectively tackle the issue [of plastic waste].” He added that Maharashtra has “come a long way in tackling plastic pollution” over the past decade.
MU’s vice chancellor, Dr Suhas Pednekar, who chaired the discussion, said, “The threat to mankind is not from terrorist activities, but from man-made imbalance in the ecosystem (in context of plastic pollution), which is more dangerous. It is of utmost importance to handover a safe environment to the future generation, and for that, the need of the hour is coherent action.”
A state-wide plastic ban came into effect on June 23, 2018. Since then the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has seized over 85,000 kgs of plastic. MPCB presented data according to which Mumbai generates 23,400 metric tonnes of solid waste per day. Of this, 5-6% is plastic (1,200-1,500 tonnes per day). Daily, 55% of the plastic generated is recycled through 31 registered recyclers and another 200 recyclers in the informal sector. “We have collected ₹6 crore in fines since the ban was implemented with Mumbai accounting for ₹4 crore alone,” said Nandkumar Gurav, regional officer (headquarters), MPCB.
Experts from TERI raised concerns about microplastics that are entering the food chain through marine species and could pose a health risk to citizens. “Immediate action is required to tackle this, and it calls for effective policy intervention, individual contribution and overall behavioural change,” said Anjali Parasnis, associate director, TERI.