Are we ready for the ban on single-use plastic

As the country is preparing to face the ban on single-use plastic items like earbuds and cutleries from 1 July this year, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), has now issued a notice asking producers, shopkeepers, street vendors and general public to stop production, stocking, sale and usage of identified single-use plastic items as per the specified deadline.

04 Apr 2022 | By PrintWeek Team

More than 34 lakh tonnes of plastic waste were generated in 2019-20 and 30.59 lakh tonnes in 2018-19 in India

The CPCB has issued directions to state pollution control boards, almost all eCommerce websites, single-use plastic sellers and users, central board of indirect taxes and customs, stating that no single-use plastics identified in the notification dated 12 August 2021, should be sold, stocked or used.

The prohibited plastic items include earbuds, flags, candy and ice-cream sticks, decorative thermocol, PVC banners less than 100-micron thick, stirrers, wrapping films, cups, glasses, and cutlery, among others.

Additionally, no plastic carry bags less than 120-micron thick can be used from 31 December.

Around 43% of plastic is used for packaging and most are single-use, according to a fact sheet released by the environment ministry and the Energy and Resources Institute (TERFI), a think tank. 

According to the central pollution body estimates, the per capita plastic use in India is about 9.7 kg, mostly packaging material.

On 29 July 2021, the CPCB had directed all state pollution control boards for a quarterly assessment of phasing out of single-use plastic in their jurisdictions, along with details of production capacity and alternatives.

But the information submitted by states was incomplete, according to the latest directions issued earlier this month. The board held a meeting on 21 January with its state counterparts to assess the situation and then prepared an action plan to phase out certain plastic items.

More than 34 lakh tonnes of plastic waste were generated in 2019-20 and 30.59 lakh tonnes in 2018-19 in India, according to data from the Centre.

According to experts, while the ban is a welcome measure to protect the environment, other supporting policies are needed by the government if the ban is to prove effective. Without any alternatives, users and manufacturers are liable to fall back on plastics. Lax enforcement of the ban can also lead to the rule only existing on paper and not de facto.

For example, states like Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra instituted similar bans in the past, but the effectiveness of the notifications was only seen years later in the case of the former. Industrial pushback, especially from the FMCG industry, would also be a key factor. Additionally, the plastic industry is likely to see heavy job losses, according to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

Delhi’s draft environment policy has, for example, included mentions of possible alternatives to single-use plastics.

“Water should be served in disposable paper glasses or reusable glass or bamboo bottles instead of drinking water sachets (any size) and packing water bottles having a capacity of less than one litre. Instead of plastic utensils and cutlery, the ones made up of leaves or bamboo should be used. Edible cutlery made from grains, pulses and millets can be used too,” the policy read.

(Courtesy: Agencies)

Tags : Plastic waste;