Single-use plastic is disposable plastics meant for use-and-throw. Single-use plastic items include plastic bags( mostly less than 50 microns), water bottles, straws, coffee stirrers, cups, food and drug packaging plastic etc. According to CPCB, India generated 26,000 tonnes per day (TPD) of plastic waste in 2017-18 of which 15,600 TPD, or 60% was recycled. India’s per capita plastic consumption is 13 kg per person which is half the global average of 28 kg. Recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bid to free India from single-use plastic by 2022. The nationwide ban on single-use plastic begins to set from October 2 to eliminate single-use plastics. the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) will overlook the implementation part. India has won global acclaim for its “Beat Plastic Pollution” resolve declared on 5th June World Environment Day, under which it pledged to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022.
- As per the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 the Centre banned on “non-recyclable and multi-layered” packaging by March 2018, and a ban on carrying bags of thickness less than 50 microns.
- In addition to that, a key step in that direction was Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. As part of EPR, producers, importers and brand owners like food Packaging companies and pharma companies are supposed to collect the plastic used by them, with the help of waste management companies.
Advantages of plastic:
- Plastic is a revolutionary Material. It is cheap, lightweight, durable, mouldable. It is used as a replacement of wood slowing down the deforestation.
- Plastic products also prevent the spread of infection. Medical Instruments such as syringes, wraps etc are often made to be disposable.
- Single-use plastic products Keep food and water fresher for longer and reducing the potential for contamination.
- As per World Wildlife Fund (WWF), plastic is non-biodegradable, takes years to disintegrate, hence very harmful to the environment. Single-use plastic usually ends up in into the landfill, river, ocean ultimately causing air, water and land pollution.
- Plastic is highly inflammable. This results in frequent landfill ablaze, releasing toxic gases into the environment. Thus impacting the air quality of the area.
- Single-use plastics gradually break down into smaller pieces of plastic known as microplastics. Microplastic from soaps, cosmetics flows into ocean clogging airways of marine animals and contaminated our food and water supply. It is carcinogenic material causing severe impact on the nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems.
- It creates Visual Pollutions which hampers the tourism industry. For instance, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) estimated a $1.3 billion economic impact of marine plastics to the tourism, fishing and shipping industries in that region alone.
- Promoting the use of biodegradable plastics, paper, khadi, cotton bags. Investing in new technology which made plastic-like materials- bagasse, sugarcane, corn starch, and grain flour, seaweed. For the packaging of milk, the industry is looking to manufacture milk pouches from polyester filament yarn (PFY)which is recyclable and can be used 45-50 times.
- Setting an affordable price mechanism for the producers for their waste, which will lead to recovery and recycling. Incentivising collection. Building a robust waste collection system.
- Spreading awareness via various events like Swachhata Hi Seva India Program- propagate the idea of shunning plastics,
- Using alternative materials, technology, innovating in usage. For Example.
- National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) will use plastic waste for road construction. Roads constructed using water plastics are durable against extreme weather conditions and are also cost-effective.
- The Department of Industrial Promotion will ensure that all cement factories use plastic as fuel.
- The Food and Consumer Affairs Ministry has decided to put forth a ban on all types of single-use plastic that is used in the government offices.
- The private company use plastic as raw material ie Nike makes sports shoes and t-shirt from plastic.
- Replacing the plastic with paper in packaging and e-commerce Company. Like Amazon Inc will replace plastic with the paper by 2020.
- Building global partnership( full-filling SDG 17) like Plastic Pollution Coalition is a global alliance of more than 750 organizations, NGO, businesses, and local government working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on the whole ecosystem.
- As plastic is used habitually, we need to replace the plastic with an alternative material such as Cotton, jute bags, coconut leaf. Such locally tailored and produced material can be a viable alternative which also boosts the local economy.
- There is a need for urban local bodies to start a massive campaign to collect and segregate waste into recyclable and non-recyclable categories. Here we can implement the Indore model of waste collection.
- Along with any move to impose a ban, there should also be equal emphasis on recycling and waste management. Comprehensive waste collection, segregation and waste management eco-system is the way forward.
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