Environment Pollution & Climate Change

Microplastics and Macro Threat

Microplastics are small plastic pieces less than five millimeters long which can be harmful to our ocean and aquatic life.  As per  the estimate in 2014, around 2,70,000 tonnes of Microplastics were floating over ocean surface and the number is slowly increasing.The impact of microplastics is increasing over the years, It first affected Water ecosystem and now it had entered into human environment and food stuffs.
When Microplastics dissolve in seawater through pollution and poor waste disposal mechanisms, it absorb the harmful toxins. Sometimes it become bead like form, called as microbeads. These Microplastics and microbeads are consumed accidentally by zooplankton, which in turn is consumed by larger fishes, prawns and other marine organisms. It affects the life of marine organisms by damaging digestive tract, body parts and reproduction. Humans upon consuming those marine food stuffs can also get affected by these Microplastics.
Source : Askhrgreen.org

More than a quarter of all fish now contain plastic, according to a recent study which analysed the guts of fish sold at markets in Indonesia and California.

Sources of Microplastics :
  • Cosmetics
  • Synthetic cloth material
  • Throwing of plastics
  • Other solid waste


Microbeads are very small pieces of plastic in products such as facial scrubs. Some are visible to the naked eye, but others are as tiny as one micrometre.  Sphericity and particle size uniformity create a ball-bearing effect in creams and lotions, resulting in a silky texture and spreadability. Smoothness and roundness can provide lubrication. Colored microspheres add visual appeal to cosmetic products.

Source: indiegogo.com
Microplastics and India :
The US ban covers cosmetic products with plastic microbeads, including toothpaste, soap and body washes. The UK also plans to ban microbeads from cosmetics by end of 2017.

It is estimated that the per capita consumption of microplastic in America is approximately 2.4 mg per person causing 263 tonnes of microbeads waste emission per year.  The said consumption in India would be much higher owing to larger population.  Which necessitates the Government intervention in this matter.

In India, In an application seeking a ban of these pollutants the National Green Tribunal on March 2016 issued notices to the Union health, environment and water resources ministries seeking their comments on what has been done to identify and curb this growing threat.

Also in the Plastic waste management rules, 2016 the Government put forward New new measures to manage Plastic waste by including Producer responsibility and delegating more role to local government bodies.

Thus, there should be more awareness to consumers about usage of Microplastics in their daily products.  Producers should be made accountable for the scientific disposal and find good alternative eco friendly natural products. Government across borders should join hand to ban such products to achieve the Sustainable development Goals 2016-2030 particularly to conserve life below water (Goal 14), to ensure responsible consumption and production (Goal 12).