Few days ago, during my evening tea time, I was struggling to open a new packet of “milk-bikis” from one of my favorite brand. After a few struggles, to my horror, I was only able to open the first layer and there was another layer of plastic packaging covered by a paper box! For a 150 gm of biscuit packet, the first layer of the packaging was the MLPs, the second layer of packaging was the paper box and the third layer was plastic cover. So many resources are used for this 25 Rs. biscuit packet! This whole incident had opened a can of worms in-front-of my eyes: the menace of single use disposable plastic packaging! But wait, why I am freaking out so much?
Now, if we see the statistics, India generates 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, of which 40 per cent remains uncollected and 43 per cent waste comes from packaging, most of which is single-use. The question is where these collected packaging waste ends up? The answer is not very difficult. According to the environment law and the waste collection department of city administration, the plastic waste should go to commercial recycling facilities for future reuse and not to pollute the environment. But, ironically, apart from the uncollected portion, most of the collected packaging waste often ends up in landfill. Yes, they do not end up in recycling centers!
How this journey of the single use, disposed packets happens? Due to poor waste management system, 91% of collected waste is being dumped at landfill which in turn pollutes our land and water bodies. The uncollected waste ends up into chocking our drainage systems which eventually pollutes river and ultimately ends up in the ocean. That leads to killing several marine lives, disrupting bio-diversity and contaminating our food chain. In one word, disposed plastic packaging waste is causing huge disaster.
When plastic was invented it was a boon to us as it was the most durable, decay resistant, inexpensive and moldable product. But due to our failed waste management, lack of awareness and wrong product design, the boon has become a bane. In addition to those reasons there lies another hidden reason which is contributing havoc into the plastic packaging pollution. Often the brands or the packaging manufacturing companies do not mention properly the type of the plastic and sometimes they will simply put a recycling sign or they will just put a pictorial of throwing used packets into the waste-bins. This practice is so wrong! Why? If the brand or the packaging manufacturing company mentions the right type of plastic number then as a consumer, we can sort out the plastic packaging according to the numbers/categories which can further help the recyclers to recycle the single used disposed plastic packaging and that could have been saved a lot of plastic pollution from packaging. As the consumers are unaware of proper waste segregation and throw all the plastic packaging mixed with other things in one waste-bin, the collected waste ultimately ends up in landfill and not in recycling center.
So when I was desperately searching for the recycling sign and the numbers on my biscuit packet, I found none! It is very openly telling on my face, that this top layer MLPs packaging and the third layer plastic packaging are not going into any recycling centers. Else they will smartly go and pollute either our lands or our water-bodies! I wonder about our handicapped minds and laws which make us feel great environment saviors whenever Government bans single used plastic bags, straws and cups! What about this disposable biscuit packaging? Are they not single use? It is time to rework on laws about these disposable packaging, else we will lose our dear planet with the land-filling itself.