ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Assessing Marine Plastic Pollution in India

The rampant use of plastics in India and inefficient waste management practices have led to plastic waste being either piled up on dumpsites or finding their way into the open sea, contributing to the global problem of marine plastic pollution. Marine plastic pollution is a threat to the well-being of marine creatures and humans, and there are heavy economic costs as well. Providing a picture of the situation along India’s coast, this study points to the dire consequences in store if no or limited action is taken.

This study was facilitated by the Mangroves for the Future, International Union for Conservation of Nature, India country offi ce, New Delhi. The IUCN facilitated travel, provided research assistance, and arranged stakeholder meetings. The views expressed are those of the authors, not of IUCN India.

The seriousness of plastic pollution in India was evident when the country celebrated the United Nations (UN) Environment Day 2018 with the theme “Beat Plastic Pollution.” Plastics are omnipresent in our daily life; in almost everything we produce and consume. While human existence has become inseparable from plastic in modern times, the lack of a sustainable disposal mechanism for plastic waste has resulted in it piling up in many parts of the world, including the oceans, and assuming the magnitude of a global threat (Borrelle et al 2017).

Marine plastic pollution is on the rise, both in developed and developing countries (Jambeck et al 2015; Kaladharan et al 2017; Kirkley and McConnell 1997). Approximately 5.25 trillion plastic pieces (including a huge amount of microplastics) are estimated to be floating in the world’s oceans, weighing more than 2,50,000 tonnes (Eriksen et al 2014). Marine debris originates mostly from land sources (80%) such as municipal and industrial waste dumped into the sea and from littering by tourists in coastal areas. But some come from the marine environment itself—waste disposed from ships and boats, and lost or discarded fishing gear (Lee 2015; Katsanevakis 2011). In 2010, 275 million metric tonnes (MMT) of plastic waste were generated in 192 coastal countries, according to Jambeck et al (2015). Of this, 4.8 MMT to 12.7 MMT ended up in the oceans. Boucher and Friot (2017) hold that more than 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced globally every year and around 8 million tonnes of it go into the oceans as plastic waste.

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Updated On : 26th Feb, 2022
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