Behavioural changes key to reducing plastic waste pollution: Vice President Naidu
India's Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has called for a nationwide mass campaign to spread awareness on using plastic products responsibly.
Plastic waste is a serious environmental concern worldwide. The problem, however, is not with plastics. The problem lies in people's attitude towards handling of plastics, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu pointed out in his call for a mass awareness campaign to bring behavioural changes towards disposal of plastic products and waste.
Addressing the students, faculty and staff of the Central Institute of Petrochemical Engineering & Technology (CIPET) in Vijayawada on Monday, Naidu highlighted the importance of plastics during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as they have been used extensively in the manufacturing of medical protection equipment and PPE kits, which play a significant role in preventing the spread of the infection. Polymeric materials are also being used widely to create medical tools and devices like insulin pens, IV tubes, implants and tissue engineering as well, he said.
Naidu, however, expressed concern over the environmental challenges posed by the durability and longevity of plastics. Urging all to follow the best practices of plastics waste management, Naidu said the solution is not to avoid plastics but to ensure that it is used responsibly and recycled properly.
In view of the need to spread awareness, the vice president called for a nationwide campaign to educate people on single-use plastics. He urged media, civil society organisations, students and activists to be an integral part of this awareness drive and appealed to all to commit to using single-use plastic items responsibly.
“People have to understand the deleterious impact of single-use plastic on our environment and think about the future of mankind,” Naidu said, adding that all are dutybound to leave a clean and green planet for children.
Plastics recycling market in India
Plastics recycling market in India is estimated to grow at a rate of 6.5 per cent to attain a market size of $53.72 billion by the end of 2023, Naidu said, adding that waste management presents a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs.
A model Plastics Waste Management Centre has been set up by CIPET in Guwahati, which focuses on offering skill development training programmes in the areas of plastics recycling and waste management.
Calling polymers as wonder materials, the vice president said that they have increased the quality of life immensely and have become an important part of the global economy due to their low weight, durability and resourcefulness. He noted that their versatility and advancements in cost-effective manufacturing techniques have led plastics to replace the conventional materials in different walks of life.
Underlining the importance of polymers in the Indian economy, the vice president said that 30,000 plus plastics processing units are employing over four million people across the country. He also mentioned that with an average national consumption of roughly 12 kilograms per capita per year, India ranks among the top five consumers of polymers in the world.
Observing that the demand for polymers is growing by eight per cent, the vice president said that the global petrochemical industry is projected to reach $958.8 billion by 2025. Various government programmes like Make in India and Start-up India will go a long way in creating the ecosystem for the next-generation research and indigenous technological advancements in the Petrochemical sector, he said.
Naidu also pointed out that the availability of domestically manufactured raw materials is one of the major strengths of the polymer industry which will help in its growth. Terming the current trend in India's plastics exports as highly encouraging, he said that the Indian plastics export industry has always offered excellent potential in terms of capacity, infrastructure, and skilled manpower.
The vice president said that CIPET has completed more than 50 major research projects and has filed 12 patents. It has trained over three lakh unemployed/under-employed youth through its skill development programmes in the last five years. A total of 16 new CIPET Centres have been set up since 2015-16.
Naidu urged the institute to focus on the development of eco-friendly products such as biodegradable plastics so as to balance the environment and development. He also said that the youth energy of young India should be constructively channelized for nation-building through proper skilling and the right motivation.