India moves firmly against the use of single-use plastic.
Context: India will ban the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of identified single-use plastic items in India from 1 July 2022.
India generates 3.5 million tonnes of plastic waste annually.
According to the All India Plastic Manufacturers Association, around 88,000 units are engaged in manufacturing single-use plastics in the country. These units employ about one million people.
The per capita single-use plastic production is 0.18 kg per year.
Phasing out plastics: PM Narendra Modi had earlier pledged to phase out single-use plastic items by 2022.
The government is said to have been working on phasing out single-use plastic items since 2018.
Single-use plastic is recognised to have low utility and high littering potential.
Under the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0, plastic waste management, including elimination of single-use plastic, is a crucial area of focus.
Earlier this month, the Centre had issued an advisory to states and Union territories to phase out single-use plastic and contribute to improving the health of the environment under the overarching 'Clean and Green' mandate.
India’s commitment to the cause: The Environment Ministry had issued 'Standard Guidelines for Single-Use Plastic' on 21 January 2019 to all states, Union territories, and central ministries for eliminating the use of single-use plastics.
An expert committee constituted by the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals had filed a report in September 2019 recommending an immediate ban on single-use plastics.
India also piloted a resolution globally to address pollution on account of single-use plastic products the same year. The occasion was the Fourth United Nations (UN) Environment Assembly. The resolution was adopted.
Recently, India engaged with member states in the Fifth UN Environment Assembly to drive action in the direction of the resolution.
Drawing a red line on some products: The notification to phase out 19 identified single-use plastic items by 1 July 2022 was issued in August last year.
The list of banned items includes earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration, plastic plates, cups, and glasses, cutlery, such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, and trays, wrapping or packaging films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 micron, and stirrers.
Plastic used for packaging in the FMCG sector is not banned, but will be covered under the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) guidelines.
The EPR is a producer's responsibility to ensure environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life.
Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021: Prohibition of the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of plastic carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than 120 microns will come into effect from 31 December 2022.
The Amendment Rules were notified on 12 August last year.
After last year’s notification, the thickness limit was set at 75 microns, which came into effect on 30 September 2021. At the end of this year, it will be raised.
Enforcing the plan: The Environment Ministry believes that the success of the ban will be possible only through effective engagement and concerted actions by all stakeholders and enthusiastic public participation. At their end, they will take these steps:
National- and state-level control rooms will be set up and special enforcement teams will be formed for checking illegal manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of banned single-use plastic items.
States and Union territories will have border checkpoints to stop inter-state movement of any banned single-use plastic items.
The CPCB has launched a grievance redressal app to empower citizens to help curb plastic menace.
Government speaks: A couple statements from today —
“Addressing pollution due to single use plastic items has become an important environmental challenge confronting all countries,” the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change said in a .
“We have given enough time, a year (to prepare for the ban on SUP items). We gave them (those dealing in SUP items) certainty for the future, made them understand and the majority of them support it,” Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said.
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