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Substitute for single-use plastics:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Conservation and Pollution related issues.

 

Context:

IISc researchers find a way to substitute for single-use plastics.

  • By combining non-edible oils and cellulose extracted from agricultural stubble, the researchers made biodegradable, multi use polymer sheets.

 

Significance:

This can make a substitute for single-use plastic that can, in principle, help mitigate the problem of accumulating plastic waste in the environment.

 

Background:

In 2019, the Union government in a bid to free India of single-use plastics by 2022, had laid out a multi-ministerial plan to discourage the use of single-use plastics across the country.

 

The strategy:

A government committee has identified the single use plastic (SUP) items to be banned based on an index of their utility and environmental impact. It has proposed a three-stage ban:

  1. The first category of SUP items proposed to be phased out are plastic sticks used in balloons, flags, candy, ice-cream and ear buds, and thermocol that is used in decorations.
  2. The second category, proposed to be banned from July 1, 2022, includes items such as plates, cups, glasses and cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays; wrapping and packing films used in sweet boxes; invitation cards; cigarette packets; stirrers and plastic banners that are less than 100 microns in thickness.
  3. A third category of prohibition is for non-woven bags below 240 microns in thickness. This is proposed to start from September next year.

 

Challenges ahead:

  1. It is not going to be an easy task given that close to 26,000 tons of plastic waste is generated across India every day, of which more than 10,000 tons stays uncollected.
  2. A significant amount of plastic ends up in rivers, oceans and landfills.

 

What needs to be done?

  1. The government has to do a thorough economic and environmental cost-benefit analysis.
  2. The plan has to take into account social and economic impacts for the ban to be successful.
  3. We need better recycling policies because resources are poor and there needs to be a much broader strategy.

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know about Plastic eating Bacteria? Can it solve the rising problem of Plastic pollution? Read Here: 

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are single use plastics?
  2. Uses.
  3. India’s targets.
  4. Other countries which are planning to phase out the use of single use plastics.

Sources: the Hindu.