• From July 1, single-use plastic will be prohibited in India. Why is it so?

    Environment

    India is rated 94th out of 100 countries in terms of single-use plastic waste output, according to the survey (the top three being Singapore, Australia, and Oman). Based on local output of 11.8 MMT and imports of 2.9 MMT, India's next generation of single-use plastic rubbish is 5.6 MMT, with per capita creation of 4 kg.

     

    Digital Desk: The usage of "single-use plastic" will be prohibited at the Centre beginning July 1. Last year, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change issued a gazette notice announcing the restriction, and it has already produced a list of items that would be restricted beginning next month.

    The Ministry statement adds, "With effect from July 1, 2022, the manufacturing, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of the following single-use plastic commodities, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, shall be forbidden."

    What is single-use plastic?                   

    As the name says, it refers to plastic items that are used once and then discarded. Packaging, bottles (shampoo, detergents, cosmetics), polythene bags, face masks, coffee cups, cling film, rubbish bags, food packaging, and other single-use plastics account for a major share of all plastic made and used.

    According to the Minderoo Foundation's report from 2021, single-use plastics account for a third of all plastic manufactured globally, with 98 percent derived from fossil fuels. According to the study, the majority of plastic disposed is single-use plastic, which accounts for 130 million metric tonnes globally in 2019, "all of which is burned, buried in landfills, or thrown directly into the environment."

    Based on current production rates, single-use plastic is expected to contribute for 5-10% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

    India is rated 94th out of 100 countries in terms of single-use plastic waste output, according to the survey (the top three being Singapore, Australia, and Oman). Based on local output of 11.8 MMT and imports of 2.9 MMT, India's next generation of single-use plastic rubbish is 5.6 MMT, with per capita creation of 4 kg.

     

    What are the items being banned?

    Earbuds, balloon sticks, candy and ice-cream sticks; cutlery goods such as plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, and trays; sweet boxes; invitation cards; cigarette packs; PVC banners measuring less than 100 microns; and polystyrene for decoration have all been banned by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

    The Ministry banned polythene bags with a thickness of less than 75 microns in September 2021, up from the previous restriction of 50 microns. The restriction will be extended to polythene bags with a thickness of less than 120 microns beginning in December. The prohibition is being phased in to give companies time to switch to thicker polythene bags that are easier to recycle, according to Ministry officials. While producers can use the same process to make 50- and 75-micron bags, the machinery for 120 micron bags will need to be modified.

    Plastic sachets used for storing, packing, or selling gutkha, tobacco, or pan masala are also prohibited under the Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2016.

    According to ministry officials, the decision to restrict the first batch of single-use plastic goods was based on "difficulty of collecting, and thus recycling."

     

    "The enemy is the presence of plastic in the ecosystem, not the presence of plastic in general." When plastic remains in the environment for a lengthy amount of time without decomposing, it dissolves into microplastics, posing a serious health risk. Microplastics get into our food and subsequently into our bodies, providing a major health danger. These items were chosen because they are difficult to gather, particularly because the majority are small or thrown away straight into the environment, such as ice cream sticks. "Unlike the considerably larger fragments, it becomes impossible to collect for recycling." According to a Ministry representative, Satish Sinha of the environmental group Toxic Links called the things chosen "low-hanging fruit."

     

    How will the ban be enforced?


    The CPCB the Centre, as well as the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs), shall monitor the moratorium and report to the Centre on a regular basis. Directives have been issued at the national, state, and local levels — for example, to all petrochemical industries - not to provide raw materials to enterprises that make the prohibited commodities.

    SPCBs and Pollution Control Committees have also been given orders to change or withdraw authorizations to operate provided under the Air/Water Act to businesses that manufacture single-use plastic items. Local governments have been told to issue new commercial licences with the condition that SUP items are not sold on their property, and current commercial licences will be cancelled if these items are found to be sold. The CPCB gave one-time certificates to 200 compostable plastic makers last week, and the BIS approved biodegradable plastic standards.

    Those who break the ban face penalties under the Environment Protection Act 1986, which include up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh, or both.

    The SPCB may also demand that violators pay Environmental Damage Compensation. There are also local rules on plastic garbage that have their own penal codes.

     

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