Ghaziabad Covid impact: Plastic consumption surges

City Environment Pandemic

Since March 2020, the use of plastic goods has increased due to the onset of the pandemic. Ghaziabad, where plastic has been banned, has seen a rise in plastic waste from different sources, according to the Nagar Nigam authorities.

Ghaziabad: Plastic consumption has seen an uprise since the Covid-19 outbreak in the city, particularly since the lockdown relaxations, said the Nagar Nigam authorities. It is, they said, an outcome of plastic products used extensively as a preventative measure against coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Local authorities are attempting to use the plastic waste accumulated for alternative purposes like constructing plastic roads.

Shops, on market streets, were seen using plastic barriers as shields against crowds of customers to prevent the risks of possible infection. This was primarily seen post lockdown relaxations. Shop owners also fear the virus because a majority of the civilians were not abiding by the precautions. Most of the shopkeepers say they change these curtains weekly. Even car servicing agencies have started using plastic sheets to cover every part of the car before the normal procedure. These plastic covers, again, are discarded daily. 

Rajeev Kumar, a grocery shop owner in Shastri Nagar, said, “I had initially not used plastic curtains, but the street crowd makes it very difficult to follow social-distancing. Seeing other street shops, I also decided to apply the needed precautions for me and my family.”

Ram Shukla, a clothing shop owner in Turab Nagar, said, “I make sure to allow limited customers in my shop at a time. The plastic barrier is delivered and changed every day. If I don’t use proper precautionary methods, I will put myself and many others at risk.”

Jyoti Tripathi, a resident of Nehru Nagar, said, “It is practically very difficult to run a house by sitting at home. Although it is unsafe to step out, everyone is bound to make their daily needs available to themselves. But I always keep my mouth and nose covered while I’m outdoors. In addition to it, I always wash my hands and spray sanitizer on myself as I return home.”

The city was already fighting severe pollution in many parts.Plastic accumulation has been adding to it due to the pandemic.The local body banned plastic that is less than 50 microns thick since January, 2016.   

Shekhar Tyagi, Nagar Nigam officer, said, “Yes, due to Covid-19 the amount of daily plastic waste collected from the city, especially in the last few weeks has gone up. But we have been using various measures to use this plastic waste to ensure maximum benefits and minimum harm to the city.”

“Just as we constructed plastic roads in areas like Sanjay Nagar and Kavi Nagar, we are looking forward to constructing plastic roads in other parts of the city as well. These plastic roads have successfully passed the durability test. Plastic could also be used to manufacture water-resistant benches primarily for school-requirements,” Tyagi added. On this idea of plastic waste management, environmentalist Dr. Yellappa Reddy said, “That is one good way of containing plastic. As of now, there are no studies that show it may turn out harmful to the environment. Otherwise, for fighting one problem (Coronavirus pandemic), we will be creating several more. Burning plastic is very dangerous. Even food orders and other packages use more plastic than usual.”

In reports for the year 2017-18, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had estimated that India generated approximately 9.4 million tonnes per annum plastic waste (which amounts to 26,000 tonnes of waste per day). Out of this, approximately 5.6 million tonnes per annum plastic waste was recycled (i.e. 15,600 tonnes of waste per day), and 3.8 million tonnes per annum plastic waste was left uncollected or littered (9,400 tonnes of waste per day.)

Globally , in the next 10 years, the waste that slides into waterways, and ultimately the oceans, will reach 22 million tons and possibly as much as 58 million tons a year. And that’s the “good” news—because this estimate takes into account thousands of ambitious commitments by government and industry to reduce plastic pollution.- says a recent research by National Geographic.

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