TEHERAN – Plastic pollution puts the whole world in hot water. In Iran, plastic bags make up the highest percentage of the total of 4 million plastic waste generated annually, so it is time to say no to plastic bags.
Plastic bags make up half a million tons of all plastic waste produced in the country annually. Every Iranian uses an average of three plastic bags a day, 96 percent of which end up in the garbage.
According to the World Population Review 2021, Iran ranks 17th in terms of plastic waste production.
The report also claims that around 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide and plastic pollution is a global human-caused disaster.
Plastics are materials that are estimated to have decomposed for more than 450 years, and during that time they are converted into tiny particles called microplastics (plastic objects less than 5mm in diameter).
These materials can now even be found on the highest point in the world, Mount Everest. For this reason, July 11th has been named “International Plastic Bag Free Day” to draw the world’s attention to the environmental damage caused by plastic consumption.
Plastics remain in the environment for hundreds of years without decomposing, and their chemicals gradually end up in the soil and water, further contaminating them, killing animals and eventually ending up in the food chain.
Microplastics are the phenomenon of modern life today. The average usage time of any plastic bag in Iran is only 12 minutes, while in the past two years with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the world, the use of plastic items such as gloves and disposable tableware has also increased more than ever.
Microplastics are everywhere
Microplastics have spread to all parts of the world – on land, air, food and even in the rain. Researchers have found these tiny particles in tissues and organs of the human body and even in the placenta of embryos.
A 2018 study found that microplastics pass through the human intestines and that these tiny particles can enter the lungs and cause a variety of diseases, including cancer.
Hundreds of studies also show that plastic bags and packaging are the deadliest plastic materials in the oceans, killing marine organisms like whales, dolphins, turtles and seabirds around the world.
Discarded fishing nets, medical gloves, and plastic gloves are very deadly compared to other litter that is thrown into the oceans and accidentally swallowed by animals.
According to researchers, ingestion of plastic materials is the biggest cause of the extinction of marine animals and 80 different animal species in the world, which is a terrible way to die as it doesn’t happen quickly and is probably not painless.
Plastic that ends up in the oceans triples in 20 years
A 2016 study showed that nearly 11 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans, and in 2020, results from a study showed the amount of plastic entering the oceans will triple by 2040 and the number by 2050 the fish will exceed.
In order to reduce the spread of microplastics, we must reduce the consumption of plastics worldwide and switch to environmentally friendly alternative products. Having a fabric shopping bag, using recyclable water bottles, and avoiding disposable spoons and forks are some of the ways to reduce plastic waste generation.
Payam Joharchi, Head of Waste Management Office of the DOE, announced in July 2020 that a bill to reduce the consumption of plastic bags, mentioned in 6 articles, was being prepared, focusing on incentive issues such as tax exemptions and aimed at reducing the production of plastic bags 20 percent annually.
It is also taking steps towards the production of renewable bags, which, given the importance of the employment issue, is planned for six years.
Hossein Abiri Golpayegani, an environmental activist, also said that deterring measures such as increasing the price of plastic bags and reducing the availability of these items to the public must be put in place to reduce the consumption of plastic bags.
In recent years, many countries have banned the production and consumption of plastic, including Bangladesh in 2002, Bhutan in 2007, Hong Kong in 2007, and the UK, selling reusable and recyclable bags instead.
Ireland, Taiwan, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium are also trying or have been trying to levy high taxes and stop producing plastic bags.
FB / MG