Banned plastic makes a comeback
Considering the environmental and health issues due to the mounting plastic waste, the state government had banned the use of single-use plastic products from this year.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Considering the environmental and health issues due to the mounting plastic waste, the state government had banned the use of single-use plastic products from this year. But today, plastic items are being used excessively, especially to protect oneself against the pandemic.From single-use plastic containers used for packing food to personal protective equipment (PPE), Covid-19 has led to more dependence on products made from single-use plastic which includes N95 masks, gloves, shoe covers and goggles – all of which are made of polypropylene, a thermoplastic which is now being widely used and has become a reliable and cost-effective solution.
According to the report prepared on the statewide collection of the non-biodegradable waste on Covid-19 till July 8 by Clean Kerala Company Limited, 1,08,280 kg of non-biodegradable waste has been collected from Thiruvananthapuram. In Ernakulam, the total quantity of non-biodegradable waste collected amounts to 10,92,925 kg.“Banned materials are being reused again. Although the used PPE kits and gloves in quarantine centres and hospitals by health workers are treated as bio-medical waste and is disposed of by IMAGE, we are getting a lot of plastic waste collected from camps and hotels across the state,” said Sreejith L K, state-in charge and project manager and Clean Kerala Company Limited.
“The single-use plastic items collected from community kitchens, camps and food outlets across the state include disposable cups, plates and plastic covers. Since the use of such products has increased, we have started creating awareness against the use of single-use plastics,” he said.The Haritha Keralam Mission, Local Self-Government Department and the Suchitwa Mission have been actively engaged in introducing alternatives to plastic products such as cloth bags, steel straws and coconut shell cutlery when the ban on single-use plastic came into effect.
“Due to the pandemic, officials are more focused on Covid-related activities. As a result, no follow-ups or inspections could be conducted. This has led to massive usage of banned plastic products,” said Faizy A, district coordinator, Suchitwa Mission, Thiruvananthapuram.“When restuarants resumed operations after two months of complete lockdown, they also shifted to disposable plates instead of fibre or glass to serve customers due to the nature of the pandemic. Used disposable plates and cups handled unscientifically can seep into the waterbodies and affect people’s health,” he said.
Currently, there are 10 plastic shredding units in the district. The authorities are planning to set up more shredding units in the coming days. “Instructions have been given in the district-level and a review meeting was also held at the panchayat level to curb the excessive use of plastic,” said Faizy. He also added that under the urban local body project, many innovative composting devices have been introduced which can be availed by contacting the city corporation.
From single-use plastic containers used for packing food to personal
protective equipment (PPE), Covid-19 has led to more dependence on products made from single-use plastic including N95 masks, gloves, shoe covers and goggles