The Ugly Truth About Microplastics | UPSC
Maldives beaches have the most microplastics: Study
WHY IN NEWS:
Microplastic concentration was found to be high in waters around Naifaru, the most populous island of Maldives
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Science and Technology
For PRELIMS go through Honolulu strategy and Microplastics definitions . Skim through the sources of Microplastics .
For MAINS how can we stop microplastics polluting our beaches ? We have mentioned the action plan . Let us dive in !
- Microplastics are small plastic pieces typically smaller than 5 millimeters in diameter.
- The debris can be of any size and shape.
- Usually those which are less than 5 mm in length (or about the size of a sesame seed) are called microplastics.
- Maldivian land reclamation policies, inadequate sewerage and wastewater systems.
- Islands used as landfill sites were also contributing to the high concentration of microplastic.
- Current waste management practices in the Maldives cannot keep up with population growth and the pace of development.
- It is estimated that eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean each year, impacting food chain and water supply.-International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- Besides, microplastics can also help introduce other contaminants to foods.
Microbeads are tiny pieces of polyethylene plastic added to health and beauty products, such as some cleansers and toothpastes.
- Persistent organic pollutants and other toxins in water can also be attracted to these particles.
- Microplastics come from a variety of sources, including from larger plastic debris that degrades into smaller and smaller pieces.
- In addition, microbeads, a type of microplastic, are very tiny pieces of manufactured polyethylene plastic that are added as exfoliants to health and beauty products.
- These tiny particles easily pass through water filtration systems and end up in the ocean or other water bodies.
- Microplastic contamination of marine and freshwater organisms occurs worldwide.
- Plastic is the most prevalent type of marine debris found in our ocean and Great Lakes.
SOURCES OF MICROPLASTICS
- Merchant shipping – rope, galley waste
- Fishing – nets, boxes, rope, wrapping bands, galley waste
- Aquaculture – nets, floats, rope
- Offshore oil and gas platforms – galley waste, sewage-related
- Cruise ships – galley waste, sewage-related (may be equivalent to a medium-sized town)
- Recreational boating – galley waste, sewage-related Land-based sources include:
- Coastal tourism – packaging, cigarette filters
- Population centres – sewagerelated, storm drains, street litter
- Horticulture/agriculture – plastic sheeting, tubing
- Poorly controlled waste sites and illegal dumping – all waste types
- Industrial sites – plastic production and conversion, packaging
- An increasing number of initiatives support policy-making are coming up .
- They range from providing participatory research and education to groups of young people, to collecting innovative ideas from individuals and businesses.
- Recognizing this emerging issue, more than 60 governments have stressed the relevance of a global framework for prevention and management of marine litter.
GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP ON MARINE LITTER
- The Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML) is a voluntary, open ended partnership for governments, international agencies, businesses, academia, local authorities, NGOs and individuals.
It was launched during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012.
- This global partnership works as a coordinating forum to increase awareness of the impacts of marine litter at various levels (e.g. by policy-makers, industry, and the general public).
- Enhance knowledge of best practices to address marine litter around the world;
- Identify and address knowledge gaps related to marine litter management;
- Coordinate global and regional networks; and improve synergy among actors.
- Demonstration projects with a focus on reducing the inflow of solid waste into the marine environment.
The Ugly Truth About Microplastics
THE HONOLULU STRATEGY AND THE 4R’s
- The Honolulu Strategy is a framework for a comprehensive and global effort to reduce the ecological, human health and economic impacts of marine debris.
- Its successful implementation will require participation and support on multiple levels (global, regional, national and local).
- This initiative involves the full spectrum of civil society, government and intergovernmental organizations as well as the private sector.
THE FRAMEWORK CONSISTS OF THREE GOALS :
- GOAL A: Reduced amount and impact of land-based sources of marine debris introduced into the sea.
- GOAL B: Reduced amount and impact of sea-based sources of marine debris introduced into the sea, including solid waste; lost cargo; abandoned and abandoned vessels
- GOAL C: Reduced amount and impact of accumulated marine debris on shorelines, in benthic habitats, and in pelagic waters .
- In view of the nature of microplastics and their increasing use in personal care products.
- There may be a need to add a fifth “R”: redesign.
Redesigning products could, for example, avoid the use of primary microplastics and stimulate innovation in more sustainable directions.