‘Onus on fishing industry to squarely address the issue’

This year, the theme for World Environment Day was ‘Beat plastic pollution’ and this was apt, as about 8 million tonnes of plastic waste is globally pumped into the oceans every year, said Jenna R. Jambeck, a National Geographic Explorer and Associate Professor in the College of Engineering, University of Georgia, USA.

Speaking to The Hindu, Dr. Jenna said if the trend was not checked, by 2025, the plastic waste in the oceans will double up to about 17 million tonnes per year.

The flow of plastic is a threat to over 700 species which includes marine species, sea birds and human, she pointed out. According to her, a research in University of Georgia, detected the presence of plastic in baby sea turtles and other marine life.

“Research is on to find out its impact on human life from the seafood, especially from those species that consume or come in contact with plastic waste. While the research on the food web is on, there is clear understanding of the impending danger from micro plastic, which cannot be detected,” said Dr. Jenna.

Speaking about the challenges, she pointed out that plastic waste generated from the fishing industry is a major threat. “The government, the fishing industry and other stakeholders should find a way to effectively dispose of the waste,” she said.

Solid waste management

Solid waste management is another focus area, she said. Appreciating GVMC’s initiative of waste segregation, she said, “Segregation and management of dry and wet waste is a major challenge. There is cutting-edge technology available, but there should be an integrated approach. All stakeholders can play a key role. Industry has a major role to play in developing infrastructure with its CSR funds,” said Dr. Jenna.

Speaking about alternative material, she said, “Packaging industry needs to look at things differently. Research is on in this area and hopefully in the next five years, new material that may look like plastic but is biodegradable will be in marketplace.”

Dr. Jenna said, “Jute or for that matter any natural material is a perfect alternative. When India is strong in this area, the jute industry should be encouraged.”

‘5 C’ approach

According to the National Geographic Explorer, who is also the Director for Circular Materials Management in the New Materials Institute at the university, what is needed today is the ‘5 C’ approach.

Contain, collect, capture, culture and contact, are the five Cs that needs to be integrated to fight the menace, she said.

“The issue changes from country to country, based on the culture and we need to bring all stakeholders to address the 5 Cs,” she said.


Source: September 17, 2018, The Hindu