With the use of SUP carry bags steadily decreasing in city retail markets, the state pollution control board (PCB) has now focused its attention on other prohibited items, such as polystyrene, also known as thermocol — another non-biodegradable item that takes 500 years to 1 million years to degrade. The National Toxicology Program of the United States confirmed it as a human carcinogen.
Polystyrene is the most widely used and littered material after SUP carry-bags. It is commonly used in packing containers to keep takeout hot, insulate houses, and carry everything from fresh seafood to televisions safely. “Yet, the havoc it creates on our natural environment is satanic,” said Ajay Mittal, director of EARTHDAY.ORG’s India and South Asia (Climate Change Programs).
“Polystyrene, like thinner plastics, wreaks havoc on the drainage system, entering water bodies and being devoured by aquatic species, therefore entering our food chain.” “We have already compiled a full list of their producers in preparation for a total ban on manufacturing,” stated a senior PCB official. The use of polystyrene in conjunction with SUP is prohibited under the Plastic Waste Management Amended Rules, 2021.
PCB also advocated for the use of paper plates without a thin plastic coating, as well as plates made of sal leaves and other biodegradable materials, such as earthenware or reused metal utensils. In the case of packaging, polystyrene materials must be thicker, reusable, and recyclable.
“Polystyrene leaches into meals and beverages provided in such containers, contaminating them.” When the container is exposed to sunlight, dangerous air pollutants are produced, contaminating landfills and depleting the ozone layer. When created, it emits enormous volumes of ozone into the environment, causing respiratory problems. “Billions of styrofoam cups used in convenience stores, restaurants, and lunchrooms wind up in landfills,” said Sadhan Ghosh, a Calcutta University professor of chemical engineering.
“When provided food, we must refuse plastic items.” “Have food wrapped in paper or sal leaves,” said Subhas Datta, an environmental activist.