Plastic may in recent years have seen a decline in its popularity with increasing awareness amongst the masses around the kind of hazard it poses to the planet. Yet, its everyday use has only seen an uptick, with global plastic production doubling between 2000 and 2019. 

Plastic recycling has been championed as the way out of the problem, insinuating that if you, the consumer, engage in healthy recycling habits, the adverse effects of plastics on this planet can be mitigated, which is not true. Only 9% of all the global plastic waste generated between 1990 to 2019 has been recycled, which stands at 13% for India, with 36% ending in landfills. In India, 60% of plastic waste is recycled, out of which only 70% is reclaimed by registered centers. A lot of Plastic finds its way to landfills, where it contaminates the soil and groundwater, and incinerating it adds to air pollution. Such landfills are known to cause health hazards to communities residing in the vicinity. Also, recycling plastic usually means repurposing them into pellets etc., and is not recyclable endlessly unlike glass and aluminum and eventually disintegrates to the point of no return after a few times rendering it a waste anyway. 

Ruining Environment is a Big Business

The truth is, virgin plastic is cheaper to make than recycling it and is a big business for oil giants. The campaigns around how if consumers separate their trash into the right dustbins can help in reducing plastic pollution is a lie, significantly since plastic production is projected to balloon to 1100 million tonnes by 2050 from 400 million tonnes today

Corporates & Unethical Practices: Failing to deliver but passing the buck 

Touting plastic recycling as a viable alternative to its increasing consumption is an easy way out for manufacturers of such products to keep pushing more plastic into the market and into the hands of the consumers. At the same time, the responsibility of recycling it has been carefully shifted onto us. There has been a recent resurgence of discussions around the issue of microplastics, which have started to find their way into human bodies. Recent discovery of microplastics in Antarctica’s freshly melted snow has sent alarm bells ringing across the scientific community with the last place on earth thought to be pristine and untouched of plastic pollution finding its name creeping up into the list. There is no second-guessing as to the havoc plastics have unleashed onto the planet and our lives and cannot be addressed alone by changing consumer habits. Plastic recycling is only one of many examples of Corporations indulging in unethical practices to shed off their responsibility as a stakeholder in the planet’s future, for example, when Volkswagen was found cheating on US emission tests for its diesel cars. Its only when they are caught that they scramble in to douse the fire and spend millions of dollars on ad campaigns to change their public perception to that of a responsible company that operates on a set of values. Their recent efforts of claiming to reduce their carbon footprint is one such example, where they’ve conveniently left out Scope 3 emissions from their carbon reduction pledge which constitutes a major chunk of their emissions. 

For years ad campaigns have been run telling individual consumers to adopt sustainable practices in their daily lives to contribute to a healthy environment, and rightfully so but corporations who are easily responsible for the worst of such practices conveniently find escape routes to avoid their responsibility and are only held accountable by the public when their shoddy practices become public. From promoting the consumption of tobacco  in early 20th century to funding studies denying climate change, such floundering of public sentiment based on, at best shady practices by these corporations cannot be allowed to increase further. It should be subjected to increased public scrutiny, for they might claim to work in the interests of their shareholders. Still, when their actions start affecting the population, it necessitates that the planet’s needs trump their privileges. But for now, Plastic recycling is a sham! It is too important an issue to be left for corporates. We, the citizens must take charge!

Shikhar is a graduate in law with a knack for reading. He also likes to read up on issues of public policy and international politics. Being a tech enthusiast, he ardently follows the current happenings around all things technology. He likes to watch movies in his pastime and is also a hip-hop aficionado.


We have witnessed a decade of digital media expansion in India, the world’s second-largest Internet user domain, to propose the idea of “millennial India.” Millennial (1981- 1996) India highlights the processes of digitalization as a distinct socio-political, economic, and environmental moment entailing new conditions of communication and the stakes of “millennials” who are drawn to digital media to articulate these matters. These processes have led to a democratization of public participation through the self-activity of online users. The increasing tech-savvy world is on the top of the list because youth want to be ‘woke’. The ‘woke’ is a GenZ (born between 1997-2012) term to be awake and aware of the injustice in society, to become more active with their opinion.

With the increase in popularity of social media, it has created an innovative platform for promotions and publicity along with entertainment. Social media has become a forum to discuss woke topics. Such as the use of the #metoo movement, which created a revolution for humans in every possible industry. American activist Tarana Burke sparked this movement in 2006, but it failed. Again in 2017, it spread all over the world, including India, where the accusers were taken into legal custody. Another such event, #Blacklivesmatter- with the killing of George Floyd by a US Police officer in May 2020, this movement spread like fire all over the world through social media with a message to look upon. The revolutionary event #FridaysforFuture also known as the school strike for climate change, was a protest movement led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Many students skipped going to school, protested all over the streets on environmental protection for climate change, and urged the leaders in authority to initiate actions and save the climate before it’s too late. These events were peaceful, and the movement was a ‘woke’ to create a change within our system. These events went viral all over social media. The use of social media is a boon as well as a bane. Perhaps, how we consume it is important.

Spreading fake news, destroying an individual’s image, trolling, etc., should not be glorified. Giving a perception or an opinion is perfectly right, but if it becomes intolerable, then it should be discarded. Stress, lower self-esteem, depression, self-harm, and suicide ideation have become more prevalent amongst millennials due to the trolling. According to UNICEF, 1 in 7 Indians of the age group 15-24 feels depressed due to excessive use of social media. Technology, especially digitalization, has offered fantastic opportunities for everyone, but its appropriate usage is imperative in these times.    

We tend to detach from the ‘real’ world and get attached to the ‘reel’ world. Be responsible enough while socially connecting that you don’t forget to ‘connect socially.’ Don’t let your digital space overpower your emotions. It is just a gadget for some purposes, don’t make it the ‘purpose of life.’

Ms. Kaumudi Shah is a Public Policy enthusiast and a researcher. She has previously worked as a copywriter in the area of advertising. She is Project Associate at the Public Policy think tank- World Intellectual Foundation.