From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Need for plastic waste management
The Environment Ministry has notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, which prohibits identified single-use plastic items which have low utility and high littering potential by 2022.
What is the new Amendment?
- Pollution due to single use plastic items has become an important environmental challenge confronting all countries.
- The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of following single-use plastic, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities shall be prohibited with effect from the 1st July, 2022:
- ear buds 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 micron, stirrers
- The thickness of plastic carry bags has been increased from fifty microns to seventy-five microns and to one hundred and twenty microns with effect from the 31st December, 2022.
Extended Producer Responsibility
- The plastic packaging waste shall be collected and managed in an environmentally sustainable way through the Extended Producer Responsibility of the Producer, importer and Brand owner (PIBO), as per Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
- For effective implementation the Guidelines for EPR being brought out have been given legal force through Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.
Plastic waste in India
- As much as 3.3 million metric tonnes of plastic waste was generated in India in 2018-19, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report 2018-19.
- This roughly translated to 9,200 tonnes a day (TPD).
- The total municipal solid waste generation is 55-65 million tonnes; plastic waste is approximately 5-6 per cent of the total solid waste generated in the country.
- Goa has the highest per capita plastic waste generation at 60 grams per capita per day, which is nearly double of what Delhi generates (37 grams per capita per day).
- Only nine percent of the plastic waste produced between 1950 and 2015 was recycled globally, according to a study by researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and others.
- Out of the nine per cent, only 10 per cent was recycled more than once; 12 per cent was incinerated, and 79 per cent ended up in landfills or oceans and other water bodies.
- There are reports suggesting a huge gap between the demand and supply of plastics; we are being sold plastics at a much higher rate than we need.
- Recycling is a rather benign word used by plastic manufacturers.
- Most plastics that we claim can be recycled in India are rather down-cycled to some other material.
- A classic example is that of PET bottles being recycled to t-shirts.
- Managing plastic waste requires effective knowledge, not only among those who produce the plastic but also among those who handle it.
- Brand owners, consumers, recyclers and regulatory authorities need to take long strides in ensuring that we first invent the total amount of plastic waste that we generate by means of proper calculations.
- The second step would be to identify the avenues where the use of plastic can be minimized.
- Third, the brand owner and manufacturer should try and understand the fates a plastic packaging material would meet after its purpose of packaging has been served.
- Last, as consumers, we should ensure that all plastic waste leaving our homes is segregated and is not contaminated with food waste.