Ever since they were first invented, plastics have been extremely popular for packaging, besides a host of other purposes. Durable, easy to handle, and inexpensive to manufacture, besides being easy to combine with other materials, plastics have ended up being used for a variety of purposes. But, once they reach the end of their lives, plastics pose a severe threat to the environment. Particularly since the very chemicals—such as Biphenol A and phthalates —that make plastics unique, can pose a grave danger to all. Although single layer plastics are also a problem, they are recyclable, and hence can be disposed of without any harm to the environment. But multilayer plastics (MLPs) that are made up of two layers of plastic with a metallic layer in between, can only be treated through pyrolysis, which is a very expensive process. MLPs too, when used for packing medicines, may be made of several layers, particularly when used in blister packs. This causes most MLPs to end up in landfills. As far as landfills are concerned, they are a recipe for future disaster; especially since the chemicals in MLPs can leach into the groundwater and cause severe health hazards to humans, flora, and fauna.
Realizing the dangers posed, amendments were notified by the government in the past to the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018 for MLPs to be phased out. However, MLPs cannot be done away with due to a variety of reasons. This is because MLPs are the only material that can withstand the extreme highs and lows of temperature in a tropical country like India, and prevent spoilage of food and medicine. Besides, no alternative has been developed to MLP packaging as yet.
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