As of January 1, 2017, New Delhi, which is the capital of India, officially banned all single-use plastic items, such as cups, bags, and cutlery. India is one of the biggest polluters in the world and New Delhi was quickly becoming one of the worst cities in the world when it comes to plastic consumption and pollution.
In fact, at the end of last year, CNN called New Delhi the “most polluted city on Earth,” though they were referring to the horrifying smog levels and air quality. It’s all interconnected, however, because factories that produce plastic emit alarming amounts of carbon dioxide into the air so banning plastic disposables will help to lessen emissions.
This new law was first proposed after complaints were filed about three sites where trash was being illegally burned. Burning plastic is extremely hazardous because it releases toxic chemicals into the air and affects the health of the surrounding area and its people. The National Green Tribunal, which instated the ban, said in a statement,
“Each of these sites is a depiction of the mess that can be created for environment and health of people of Delhi.”
Currently, India is responsible for 60 percent of the world’s plastic pollution in the ocean, which is a rapidly-growing issue. Plastic pollution not only seriously harms marine wildlife but it makes its way into the oceanic food chain before humans consume the animals that consumed the plastic. This is highly toxic but goes unbeknownst to consumers on a daily basis.
Along with the new law comes a new fine for plants caught burning trash. The fine is 500,000 rupee—or $7,346—for each pollution incident. While this may not seem high, every plant that ceases its trash burning to avoid the fine will help to dramatically decrease the smog in the city.
Additionally, all vegetable vendors and slaughter houses will face 10,000 rupees ($147) for disposing of trash in public places not designated for trash. These fines and the ban most adversely affects plants and companies that produce plastic products and it’s now the residents that need to get on board with curbing pollution. Less littering is essential for reducing plastic pollution and, if people find it hard to care about the Earth, then they should at least consider the cleanliness of their own city before dumping trash on the streets.
India is not the only country that has serious problems with pollution and a lack of environmental practices; Asian countries are on track to contribute 80 percent of the world’s plastic waste by 2025. As more cities, states, providences, countries, and the like adopt bans on plastic products, the possibility of salvaging what’s left of Earth as we know it increases. It’s important that all global citizens recognize the need to reduce waste and incorporate new practices into their lives to achieve this, even if it’s not forced on them to do so by the law.
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