A UN report released on World Environment Day by Erik Solheim, UN Environment Executive Director, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi states that at the current annual rate of up to five trillion tons of plastic consumed around the globe in a year, the planet would be burdened by a 12 billion tons of plastic waste sitting in its landfills. To make matters worse, the solution side of things, which at the moment is the recycling of plastic waste, only happens to about 14% of all plastic generated, meaning the situation as described in the report could possibly be far more grave than previously thought.
With reference to India, the report pointed out that the dual push to increase greener technologies but also have a sustained dependence on plastics, as end products of fossil fuels, would throw a spanner in the works of any renewable energy programs currently in the pipeline. In fact, continued trends at their current pace could see plastic manufacturing resulting in consuming a fifth of the crude oil produced globally, which means impact at the national level here in this country would be greatly skewed in favour of technologies not aligned with any of the programs that are now in place to reduce the national addiction to plastic bags, among other things.
Many states in India have taken steps over the years to reduce the use of plastic bags in supermarkets and other shopping establishments, urging the Indian consumer to make more conscious decisions when it comes to her or his role as a consumer, and the overall responsibility each person has towards protecting the environment. However, in light of this report, it appears that a lot more should be in process, with a far more actionable and prudent long-term perspective on this issue.