Plastic packaging posing serious threat to marine environment, NIO study
BY ANWESHA GHOSH
Panaji: Non-recyclable multilayered plastics, (e.g Plastic sachets, plastics packets)primarily used for packaging spices, food, cosmetics and other FMCG products add to the pre-existing macro and microplastics found on the beaches posing serious threat to marine life, a study by National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) revealed.
“Majority of the people buy products that come in plastic sachets that highly contribute to macroplastics and gradually degrade to microplastics and mixing with soil. While we look on banning single use plastics like polythene bags and water bottles, these small plastic packets are more harmful than anticipated,” Dr Mahua Saha, senior scientist at NIO told GT.
The recent study undertaken by NIO under the aegis of Dr Saha, stated that large number of microplastics have been found on the beaches of Maharashtra followed by Goa and Karnataka.
Saha added that while we are aiming to ban single use plastic, multi-layered plastics are one of the prime elements that add to microplastics generation faster as they break down faster in natural environment faster and mix with sediments.
Saha further informed that even sewage treatment plants have been complaining the presence of small plastic packets leading to clogging. “I have personally visited the sewage plant in Tonca and they said that they receive lot of these small plastics in the sewage. How can these plastics come in sewage?” she further questioned.
Talking more about the study Saha said, “This study started three years back with Dr Dusmant Maharana, wherein we collected samples from ten beaches across the three states from the higher tide line and tested it in NIO lab. It was determined that Maharashtra beaches had a higher contamination rate, compared to the Karnataka and Goa beaches.”
Samples were collected from Vagator, Colva, and Calangute in Goa. The NIO scientist also pointed out that besides plastic industries located near the shore, increased tourism activities is mainly responsible for the pollution.
Informing about her next study in relation with microplastics Dr Saha said that NIO is undertaking research at the Mandovi-Zuari estuary where traces of microplastics have been found.