Microplastics in oceans, air and human body

Scale up plastic waste collection, reinforce recycling capacity

Published : 04 Jul 2022 09:30 PM

From ocean depths to mountain peaks, humans have littered the planet with tiny shards of plastic. We have even absorbed these microplastics into our bodies - with uncertain implications. Plastic is polluting every corner of the planet. The scale of plastic pollution has become alarming with millions of tonnes of plastic waste existing almost everywhere posing serious threats to human and animal health and destroying nature as well. 

Images of plastic pollution have become familiar: a turtle suffocated by a shopping bag, water bottles washed up on beaches, or the monstrous "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" of floating detritus. Scientific studies are increasingly detecting microplastics in some human organs - including "the lungs, spleen, kidneys, and even the placenta. Currently, the overwhelming majority of plastic products aren’t biodegradable. As such the plastic in use today is likely to stick around for thousands of years, posing a threat to the lives of animals, aquatic organisms and humans alike.

Necessary steps should be taken to scale up 

plastic waste collection and reinforce 

recycling capacity through investment

It is disconcerting to learn that around 17,000 tonnes of plastic is produced in the country every day and only half of it is recycled, according to the Department of Environment. Reportedly, in Dhaka city alone, plastic waste has gone up more than 3.5 times from 178 tons per day in 2005 to 646 tons per day in 2020. Of that 646 tons, only 37 percent is recycled, and mostly by the informal sector. 

In order to reduce plastic pollution, we all have an essential role to play, from making small lifestyle changes -- such as shopping with reusable bags -- to raising our voices for more progressive and sustainable policies.  Our voices can become an impetus behind public policy decisions.

Considering the fact that plastic use is unavoidable, recycling of plastic waste has become more than a necessity. We cannot reduce its use due to its flexibility but we can surely reuse it to minimise its impact on environment. We need to conduct awareness campaigns to convince consumers to reduce their reliance on single-use plastics and encourage them to move towards healthier and more sustainable ways of living that will benefit their families and their communities. 

The fight against plastic pollution is twofold: First we must contain it, and then we must eradicate it. It is time to determine concrete targets and devise roadmaps for reducing avoidable plastic use. Necessary steps should be taken to scale up plastic waste collection and reinforce recycling capacity through investment.