Chapter 9: An initiative towards curbing the usage of plastic bags in supermarkets: a case study in Chennai, India
Issues pertaining to plastics and the environment are two-fold: those around raw materials and production processes and those regarding plastic litter and waste. Plastic usage has increased remarkably in the last decade, and this has led to pressure on the source of raw materials (Nhamo 2008). Endurance, the very property for which the use of plastic became popular in the latter part of the twentieth century, now haunts it. We can break it, chop it, dice it, shred it, burn it, and bury it, but it stubbornly refuses to die. Environmental hazards of plastic and packaging waste include the intractable problem of its disposal, leaching of the plastic additives into the ground water, significant impacts on wildlife feeding, hormone production, reproduction, creation of toxic chemicals, ecosystem processes, and biodiversity. The world's annual production of plastic materials has been steadily increasing over the past 20 years at a rate of nearly 5 per cent production growth. In 2010, 265 million tons were produced, 6 per cent (15 million) more than the previous year, and consumption patterns show that within developing countries the increase of plastic consumption has been higher than the world average due to rapid urbanisation and economic development. This trend implies not only an increase in needed resources but higher quantities of plastic waste being generated (UNEP 2013) A majority of the plastic waste is generated in cities.
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