Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Enforcing the Single-Use Plastic Ban


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Single use plastics

Mains level: Need for plastic waste management

A ban on the use of single-use plastics that was notified by the Union Environment Ministry on August 2021 came into effect on July 1 this year.

What is the news?

  • The national and State-level control rooms would be set up to check illegal manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of banned single use plastic items.
  • The Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, will also prohibit manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of plastic carry bags.
  • This is for plastics having thickness less than 120 microns with effect from December 31, 2022.

What is Single-Use Plastic?

  • The Centre defines it as an object made of plastic that is intended to be used “only once” before being disposed off or recycled.
  • Single-use plastic items such as these had “low utility and high littering potential,” it noted.

What is now included in SUPs?

  • For the purposes of the ban, there is a list of 21 items that come under the definition of single-use plastic including ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, thermocol for decoration etc.
  • It also includes 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.
  • These objects were listed by the Environment Ministry in August when it notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.

How will the ban be implemented?

  • So far 32 States/UTs have reportedly constituted a dedicated Task Force to eliminate the use of single-use plastics.
  • Of these 14 states/UTs and 12 Central Ministries, as of March, had developed action plans describing how they would be enforcing this.
  • A few States, for example Maharashtra, already have legislation banning the manufacture and storage of such plastic.
  • But implementing it wasn’t always successful as there was regular supply from States where such bans were not in force.
  • An all-India ban, it’s hoped, would make enforcement more effective.

Penal provisions

  • According to the Environment Protection (EP) Act, violating the ban could invite “punitive action”.
  • Manufacturers and distributors of single-use plastic goods were directed to have zero inventory by June 30.
  • The EP Act says that violating the ban could invite a five-year imprisonment and a fine of upto ₹1 lakh, or both.
  • If the violations are repeated, it could mean additional fines up to ₹5000 for each day.
  • There are different penalties for companies, organisations, and government departments under the EP Act.

What is the history of the single use plastic ban in India?

  • The Environment Ministry told the Rajya Sabha last July of its plan to phase out some categories of single use plastic by 2022.
  • A draft outlining the manner in which the ban was to be implemented was issued in March and involved amending the PWM Rules, 2016.
  • Before the amendments came into force, the Rules only prohibited the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carry bags and plastic sheets less than 50 microns in thickness in the country.
  • There is a ban on sachets using plastic material used for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala.
  • Since October 2021, there is a ban on carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than 75 microns as opposed to 50 microns under the earlier version of the rules.

Is there popular support for the ban?

  • The All India Plastic Manufacturers Association has said that the ban would shutter 88,000 units in the plastic manufacturing business.
  • These employ close to a million people and contribute to exports worth ₹25,000 crore.
  • Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies (FMCG) would be severely affected by the the ban due to their dependence on plastic straws, plates.
  • Their replacements, industry representatives say, are available but cost much more than their plastic alternatives.
  • There is also limited capacity in India to provide biodegradable replacements.

What is the environmental damage from SUPs?

  • Unlike thicker and denser plastic material, single-use plastic objects being light and flexible are less amenable to being recycled.
  • While 99% of plastic is recycled, they constitute heavier plastics that are likely to be collected by ragpickers and plastic waste recyclers.
  • Single use plastics do not provide an incentive enough for the effort needed to collect them and hence they lie around, leach their toxins into the soil and cause environmental damage in both land and sea.


UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plannow! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch