What are the most practical avenues to decrease plastic pollution?

Plastic is everywhere. A good number of disposable plastic items pollute our land and water, and we all wish to something about this. But what?

While you will hear numerous ideas of how to decrease plastic pollution, a good many of them are not practical.

For instance, I have heard so many idealistic suggestions on completely eliminating plastic from our life. I mean, it will not be easy for us to avoid plastic – try it for a day, and you will agree with me. But aren’t there alternatives we can use? For some applications, yes, but for many applications, there are few if any non-polluting materials available as alternatives.

Let’s get practical.

So, what indeed are the practical ways to decrease plastic pollution?

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Segregation & Recycling – We need a good system to segregate waste so that a good portion of the plastic waste is brought back into circulation through recycling, instead of polluting land or marine environments.
  2. Reduce & Reuse – While eliminating plastic from our lives is not possible (not at least in the short run), what is possible is to eliminate a few unnecessary uses of plastic, and reusing plastic items that can indeed be reused. Bring your own bag, reusing plastic bags and covers, saying no to an extra plastic cover if it is handed to you at retail outlets…
  3. Selective Elimination – While not easy, governments and municipalities should consider how to reduce the amount of very thin plastic films (standalone or in the form of laminates) used, as these are the ones that are very difficult to collect/segregate and to recycle. Talk about mulch films etc; talk also about specific occasions such as parties when plastics can create most harm and thus trying to eliminate plastics in these alone can be of great use; also in products such as diapers and in sanitary napkins
  4. Substitute select products / applications with easy, eco-friendly alternatives – A simple example of this is the use of metal or ceramic cups, instead of plastic cups, for coffee and other hot/cold beverages.
  5. Less landfill and more of plastics to value – if the plastic has to finally go somewhere, let it not be to the landfill, where it lies forever as a pollutant; let it instead reach the incineration chamber where it can be burnt to generate power. This way, we are getting rid of the plastic and its pollution, and generating something useful at the same time.
  6. Use of Biodegradable Plastics – It is possible that in the near future, some of the thin film disposable plastics used are replaced by biodegradable plastics, plastics that will degrade within a few months in natural or industrial composting environments. Mention that this might not be a very practical way for the time being though

I feel the above methods are practical, and most of them can be implemented either by individuals, communities or municipalities in the short term, without significantly affecting our current way of life.

What are your thoughts on how to reduce plastic pollution?

Related Posts at Cleantech Guide

  • Can all plastics be recycled? – Link
  • How did we live before plastics were invented? – Link
  • Can waste plastic be converted to oil? – Link
  • What are the most effective avenues to decrease plastic pollution? – Link
  • Are bioplastics really a substitute for petro-plastics? – Link






What are the most practical avenues to decrease plastic pollution? - Cleantech Guide