Explained: Why is single-use plastic being banned in India from July 1?

From July 1, single-use plastics will be banned in India. The ban covers the manufacture, import, storage, distribution, sale and use of single-use plastics. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recently released a list of measures to enforce the ban.

single use plastic

As the name implies, single-use plastics (SUPs) are those that are discarded after a single use. Besides the ubiquitous plastic bags, SUPs include takeaway food containers, disposable cutlery, straws, stirrers, processed food packages and wrappers, cotton bud sticks, etc., foam products such as cutlery, plates, and cups are the most lethal over the The environment.

Impact on the environment

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If plastic is not recycled, it can take a thousand years for it to degrade, according to the United Nations Environment Program, the United Nations Environment Program. In landfills, it breaks down into small fragments and leaches carcinogenic minerals into groundwater. Plastic is highly flammable – the cause of frequent fires in landfills, releasing toxic gases into the environment. It floats on the surface of the sea and ends up blocking the airways of marine animals.

Plastic waste management in India

The 2016 plastic waste management rules reported by the center called for a ban on “non-recyclable and multi-layered” packaging by March 2018, and a ban on bags less than 50 microns thick (the thickness of a strand of human hair). The rules were revised in 2018, with changes that activists say favor plastics and allow manufacturers an escape route. The rules for 2016 SUPs are not mentioned.

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On World Environment Day in 2018, India pledged to phase out SUPs by 2022.

In August last year, the center announced a one-time plastic ban effective July 2022.

A notification issued by the Ministry of Environment on Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021 stated: “The manufacture, import, storage, distribution, sale and use of … single-use plastics, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene goods are prohibited as of July 1, 2022.”

Items covered by the ban

Items that will be banned are – ear pads with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) decorations, plastic plates, cups, mugs, cutlery like forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays, Packaging films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packages, plastic or plastic banners less than 100 microns and flip-flops. The ban will not apply to goods made of compostable plastic.

The size of the problem

There is no comprehensive data on the total amount of plastic waste in the country. A 2015 study by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) surveyed 60 cities and extrapolated the data to estimate that the country generated about 26,000 tons of plastic waste per day in 2011-12, the equivalent of the weight of 4,700 elephants.

About 70% of plastic waste has been collected. 60% has been recycled. The actual daily generation of plastic waste is likely to be much more.

According to plastic waste management rules, all states and UTs are required to submit annual statements to the CPCB; However, many states and UTs failed to comply.

Waste recycling

About 94% of plastic materials are recyclable. India recycles about 60%; The rest goes to landfills, the sea and waste-to-energy plants. Most experts see recycling as a temporary measure until plastic is completely phased out from daily use.

“Plastic has an end of life, too. They can’t be processed four to five times more,” says Dinesh Raj Pandela, deputy director of the (plastics) program at the Center for Science and Environment. The CPCB warns that recycled products are sometimes even more harmful to the environment, because they contain on additives and colours.

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