India generates about 25,940 tons of plastic waste per day and about 9.46 million tons of plastic waste per year.
If you’re Indian and live with your parents, you probably have a big plastic bag full of even smaller plastic bags stuffed somewhere in your house; either in the kitchen or behind the bedroom door or maybe even under the bed.
While it is a common sight in most Indian households, the estimate Pollution Control Center India produces about 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste per day and about 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste per year.
Of this, about 60% of plastic waste (15,384 tonnes) is collected and recycled, while the rest is collected and disposed of in the environment.
India is now trying to take a strong stance against plastics and plastic pollution by banning the sale and use of disposable plastics (SUPs). SUP is defined by anything commodity this is a plastic article that is intended to be used once for the same purpose before disposal or recycling.
The Ministry of the Environment, Forestry and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has introduced new guidelines – Plastic Waste Management Amendment Regulations, 2021. This replaces the current Plastic Waste Management Regulations 2016 (PWM Regulations, 2016), which were amended in 2018.
In June 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India would eliminate the SUP by 2022.
This was confirmed at the Fourth United Nations Environment Conference (UNEA) in March 2019, where India piloted two resolutions – one concerns SUPs and sustainable nitrogen management. This helped recognize the urgent need for the global community to focus on this critical issue and was also a significant step for India.
Sometime in March 2021, the ministry had published a draft notice to change the PWM rules, 2016. It asked those affected by these anti-SUP rules to respond with their objections and suggestions.
Recently, in July 2021, when Lok Sabha questioned Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of the Environment for the phasing out of SUPs, said the draft notice said the manufacture, import, storage, distribution, sale and use of some identified SUPs was “proposed to be banned on 1 January 2022.”
When asked about measures taken to strengthen PWM rules in 2016 and reduce the use of identified SUP products, Choubey said: “Fourteen states / regions in the Union have formed a task force so far. The national level working group has also set up coordinated action elimination and effective implementation of plastic waste management rules, 2016. “
Last week, the MoEFCC released Press release indicate the goods whose use is prohibited. It says these identified SUP products have low potential for recovery and littering and will be slowly phased out by 2022.
The ban on the manufacture, import, storage, distribution, sale and use of the following products, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, will take effect on 1 July 2022.
Products include ear cushions with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy buns, ice cream sticks, polystyrene [thermocol] for decoration.
It also includes plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays, blenders, wrapping or packaging films around candy boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packs, plastic or PVC banners under 100 microns.
From 30 September 2021, the thickness of plastic bags allowed shall be 75 microns. From 31 December next year, the plastic bags allowed must be 120 microns thick.
The ministry believes this will allow people to reuse plastic bags because they are thicker and as a result more durable.
The sites to be banned were selected on the basis of the recommendations of a 13-member committee of experts chaired by the retired Secretary of the Union Government, Indrajit Pal. Business Standard. The committee also included scientists and other technical experts.
The decisions of the committee were taken after discussions with industry stakeholders and independent experts about research institutes such as The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and non-profit organizations such as Chintan and Toxics Link.
These 10 factors were used to determine whether the products were banned:
- Utility – hygiene, product safety, relevance, social and economic impact.
- Environmental impacts — collectability, recyclability, potential for end-of-life solutions, environmental impacts of alternative materials, and susceptibility to litter).
Plastic packaging materials that are not included in the end-of-life list are to be collected and handled in an “environmentally sustainable manner” through extended producer responsibility of the manufacturer, importer and brand owner (PIBO) in accordance with PWM rules in 2016.
The Plastic Waste Management Amendment Regulations, 2021, have given legal weight to the Extended Producer Responsibility Guidelines, which have been published to ensure the effective implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility.
- The waste management infrastructure, ways to identify and reduce the use of SUPs, and PWM rules in 2016 in states and regions of the Union will be strengthened in the following ways.
- States / UTs have been asked to set up a special working group on the disposal of disposable plastics and the effective implementation of plastic waste management rules, 2016.
- The Ministry has also established a working group at the national level to implement coordinated actions to eliminate identified disposable plastic products and the effective implementation of plastic waste management regulations, 2016.
- Central ministries / departments and state / UT governments have been asked to develop a comprehensive action plan for the elimination of SUPs and the effective implementation of plastic waste management rules in 2016 and its timely implementation.
- Guidelines have been issued to all states / regions of the Union in accordance with section 5 of the Environmental Protection Act 1986, inter alia, for the establishment of an institutional mechanism to strengthen the implementation of the Plastic Waste Management Regulations (PWM), 2016.
Other actions are being taken to raise awareness of SUP disposal and PWM rules, 2016.
The India Plastic Challenge – Hackathon 2021 has been organized for university students and startups recognized under the Startup India initiative. This competition is intended to encourage innovation in the development of SUP options and digital solutions for plastic waste treatment.
In addition, a two-month disposable plastic campaign 2021 has been organized.
The Ministry has also launched a pan-European essay writing competition on the subject to raise awareness among the country’s schoolchildren.