According to Central Control Board (CPCB), India produces over 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day and approximately 9.46 million tonnes per year.
Almost 60 per cent of the plastic is collected and recycled, but the rest, 40 per cent, remains uncollected and littered in the Environment.
India’s effort to save the Environment by banning single-use plastics
India is striving to take a strong stand against plastic pollution by banning the sale and use of single-use plastics (SUP).
What are Single-use plastics?
Single-use plastic is designed and produced so that we can throw it away after being used just once.
These disposable plastic items include plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, water and soda bottles and most FMCG packaging.
Efforts made by the government
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has established a new set of rules.
The existing Plastic Waste Management Rule, 2016 (amended in 2018) will be replaced by the new Guideline, Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.
Single-use plastic items are pinpointed as having low utility and high littering potential by MoEFCC.
In June 2018, Narendra Modi announced eliminating SUP by 2022, emphasized during the fourth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) held in March 2019.
India addressed the problems related to SUPs and sustainable nitrogen management.
Earlier this year, in March, the ministry of Environment circulated a draft notification about modifying the plastic waste management rules, 2016 and summoned all those who the anti-SUP guidelines would impact bringing up their concerns and propositions.
The minister of State and Environment Ashwini Kumar Choubey informed that as per the draft publication, the manufacture, stock, import, distribution, sales and use of some of the known SUPs are suggested to be banned by January 2022.
He also shed some light on the measures taken to amend the PWM rules, 2016 and shrink the use of identified SUP items, saying fourteen states and union territories have the special task force till now.
Not to forget a national level task force established for taking synchronized measures to cut down the use of identified SUP items and operative execution of Plastic Waste Management, 2016.
In August 2021, MoEFCC circulated a press release disclosing the prohibition of specific identified SUPs, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, which will operate from July 1, 2022.
Specific commodities, including plates, cups & glasses, cutlery involving forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, stirrers, wrapping or packaging films around food boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners below 100 microns are announced for prohibition.
Permitted plastic bags will require a required thickness of 75 microns from September 30, 2021, and 120 microns by December, resulting in more durable bags.
A 13-member special committee including expert scientists and technical specialists was formed, which based the decision on the following factors:
⦁ Utility- hygiene, product safety, social and economic impact and significance.
⦁ Environmental impact- collection, recycle, the possibility of end-of-life solutions, the effect of the substitute material used on the Environment and the littering tendency etc., are to be considered.
The new notification can have a huge impact and positive communication advantage in the global fight against plastic toxicity.
Initiation of multiple awareness programs
⦁ The plastic used in packaging is not included in the phase-out list and should be gathered and administered in an environmentally sustainable manner.
⦁ The states and union territories are appealed to establish a special task force to liquid single-use plastics and apply the Plastic Waste Management Rules.
⦁ A national-level task force has also been formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to eradicate the use of identified SUPs with the help of synchronized efforts.
⦁ A regulation under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 has been announced for all states and union territories to set up an institutional mechanism for consolidating enforcement of PWM rules.
⦁ The India Plastic Challenge-Hackathon 2021 competition is organized to stimulate revolutionary ideas for developing alternatives to SUPs.
⦁ Digital solutions for plastic waste management is also encouraged by the government.