In another significant step to reduce plastic pollution and taking a step forward to reduce plastic waste. The central government has issued guidelines to the states asking them to ban the use of selected single-use plastics and has advised implementing this ban from July 1st, 2022. Single-use plastics are usually those items that are discarded after being used only once and are not recyclable meaning they do not go through the recycling process. The items that are banned –
Earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration, plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns stirrers. As they are the biggest contributors to plastic pollution and are harmful to both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Reason Behind the Plastic Ban
In a clear and loud call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to phase out single-use of plastic items by 2022, the Union Environment Ministry notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021 on August 12, 2021. By carrying forward the spirit of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’- 75th year of independence, a major step to curb plastic pollution caused by littered and unmanaged plastic waste is being taken by the country. States and Union Territories have been asked to set up border checkpoints to stop the interstate movement of any banned SUP (Single-use plastic) items. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has also launched a grievance redressal application to empower citizens to help curb plastic use. According to the CPCB, India generates around 2.4 lakh tonnes of SUP per annum. The per capita SUP production is 0.18 kg per year. Officials have said plastic used for packaging in the FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) sector is not banned, however, it will be covered under the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) guidelines. As EPR is a producer’s responsibility to ensure environmentally-sound management of the product until the end of its life. Though several industries have also stated, “that India has a low production capacity of alternative solutions to such banned items, and any shortage of such articles may add up to the manufacturing costs and hurt their margins.” To which the government responded by saying that in order “to ramp up the production, capacity-building workshops are being organized for industrial units to provide the technical assistance for manufacturing of alternatives to banned single-use plastic items with the involvement of various government agencies.” Provisions are also made to support such enterprises.
Penalty for Violating the Ban Any violation of the rules – manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use will attract penalties and punishment given under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. As per the Act, “whoever fails to comply with the provisions may be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years or with fine which may extend to Rs 1 lakh, or with both” and in case of any failure or contravention continues, an additional fine which may extend to Rs, 5,000 for every day will be imposed. Alternatives that can be used instead of Plastic -Paper, Jute, Glass, Wood & clay, Stainless steel, Bamboo ( major alternative) These can be used as a better and low-cost alternative as they are biodegradable are produced in abundance, has great potential, and can meet the surge in demands.