Ma­jor­ity of trash on Chen­nai beaches is plas­tic

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE -

Chen­nai: A three-hour clean-up of Chen­nai’s beaches in June yielded 34 tonnes of in­or­ganic waste — roughly the weight of 13 fe­male ele­phants. Ac­cord­ing to an au­dit con­ducted with about five per cent (25 bags) of this waste, there were 1,829 pieces of multi-lam­i­nate plas­tics, with the high­est num­ber of pieces (702) from the Light­house zone (be­tween Light­house and St Bedes High School).

A three-hour clean-up of Chen­nai beaches by Chen­nai Trekking Club (CTC) in June yielded 34 tonnes of in­or­ganic waste, which is roughly the weight of 13 fe­male ele­phants.

If th­ese ele­phants were to be made out of plas­tic like the waste, eight of them can be built out of plas­tic carry bags alone, and one ele­phant can be made purely from wa­ter pack­ets, re­vealed an au­dit con­ducted on a sam­ple of this waste by Cit­i­zen Con­sumer and Civic Ac­tion Group (CAG).

The clean up of beaches was a part of the break­free from plas­tic global move­ment aimed at high­light­ing role and ac­count­abil­ity of man­u­fac­tur­ers re­spon­si­ble for pro­lif­er­a­tion of sin­gleuse plas­tics end­ing up in oceans, beaches, and wa­ter­ways.

In Chen­nai, CTC cov­ered 25 km of coast from Ma­rina to Akkarai Beach on June 18. CAG col­lected 25 bags of waste sam­ples (about 5% of to­tal waste) from this cleanup and seg­re­gated the sam­ples to per­form this au­dit. “There were a to­tal of 1829 pieces of mul­ti­l­am­i­nate plas­tics, of which the Light­house zone (be­tween Chen­nai Light­house and St. Bedes High School) had the high­est num­ber of pieces (702 pieces),” the re­port said. This lit­ter can cause sub­stan­tial harm to hu­mans, marine or­gan- isms and econ­omy.

Th­ese plas­tics pose mul­ti­ple dan­gers to hu­mans. Di­rect tox­i­c­ity from plas­tics comes from lead, cad­mium, and mer­cury, ac­cord­ing to ‘Plas­tics in the Ocean Af­fect­ing Hu­man Health’a study con­ducted by Gianna Andrews, De­part­ment of Earth Sciences, Mon­tana State Univer­sity in 2012. Ac­cord­ing to this study, th­ese tox­ins were found in many fish in the ocean pos­ing a threat to hu­mans linked to can­cers, birth de­fects, im­mune sys­tem prob­lems and child­hood de­vel­op­men­tal is­sues.

The au­dit em­pha­sised that the plas­tics are ex­tremely hard to col­lect and seg­re­gate. “There­fore, there is a strong case to be made for ban­ning the pro­duc­tion of such ma­te­ri­als. At the very least, we must ap­ply the pol­luter pays prin­ci­ple on plas­tic waste and im­pose EPR rules for their col­lec­tion and sus­tain­able dis­posal,” said Sat­yarupa Shekar, from CAG.

SUNISH P SURENDRAN

NCC cadets from var­i­ous col­leges clear­ing plas­tic waste from the Ma­rina on the oc­ca­sion of In­ter­na­tional Coastal Clean-up Day on Satur­day |

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