GS Paper 3:
Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
In another step toward eliminating single-use plastic, the Union Environment Ministry has launched “Prakriti”, a mascot to spread greater awareness about small changes that can be sustainably adopted in the lifestyle for a better environment.
During the event, following green initiatives were launched for plastic waste management:
1 – National Dashboard on Elimination of Single Use Plastic and Plastic Waste Management (MoEFCC):‘
- This aims to connect all stakeholders including Central Ministries/ Departments, State/UT Governments, etc. through one platform and track status and progress made for elimination of single use plastic & effective management of plastic waste.
2 – Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Portal for Plastic Packaging (CPCB):
- This portal will look after tasks that will help in overall operational functions like improving accountability, traceability, transparency and facilitating ease of reporting compliance to EPR Obligations by Producers, Importers and Brand-owners.
3 – Mobile App for Single Use Plastics Grievance Redressal (CPCB):
- This app will allow citizens to check sale/usage/manufacturing of single use plastic in their region and tackle the plastic menace.
4 – Monitoring module for single use plastic (CPCB):
- This will be for local bodies, State pollution control board/PCCs and CPCB, etc. to invent details of single use plastic production, its sale & usage, etc. in commercial establishments at district level, and on-ground enforcement of ban on single use plastics.
5 – Industrial production of Graphene from Waste Plastic (G B Pant NIHE & NRDC) will promote more industries to come forward to upcycle plastic waste.
Efforts by Government in this regard:
- To tackle the challenge of plastic pollution, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s pledge to phase out Single-Use Plastics (SUPs) by 2022.
- India’s plastic waste management rules 2016 were amended banning the import of plastic waste SUVs with effect from July 2022 onward.
What are single use plastics?
Single-use plastics refer to disposable items like grocery bags, food packaging, bottles and straws that are used only once before they are thrown away, or sometimes recycled.
- As plastic is cheap, lightweight and easy to produce, it has led to a production boom over the last century, and the trend is expected to continue in the coming decades, according to the United Nations.
- But countries are now struggling with managing the amount of plastic waste they have generated.
About 60% of plastic waste in India is collected — that means the remaining 40% or 10,376 tons remain uncollected.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- A third category of prohibition is for non-woven bags below 240 microns in thickness. This is proposed to start from September next year.
- 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.
- A significant amount of plastic ends up in rivers, oceans and landfills.
What needs to be done?
- The government has to do a thorough economic and environmental cost-benefit analysis.
- The plan has to take into account social and economic impacts for the ban to be successful.
- We need better recycling policies because resources are poor and there needs to be a much broader strategy.
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- What are single use plastics?
- India’s targets.
- Other countries which are planning to phase out the use of single use plastics.
Sources: the Print.