Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: Issues related to plastic waste disposal in India
- An ambitious resolution piloted by India to phase out single-use plastics by 2025, was watered down at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) that concluded recently in Nairobi.
Deadline pushed back
- The final declaration on March 15 removed the firm timelines and edited out the “decisively” and only committed to a “reduction by 2030.”
- At the World Environment Day summit on June 5, 2018 India had pledged to eliminate single-use plastics from India by 2022.
- This pushed several States — notably Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh — to enforce previous commitments to ban plastic bags and similar disposables.
- Ahead of the UNEA, the UN secretariat had invited inputs from member states to forge a common declaration regarding addressing a host of environmental challenges.
What concerns India?
- A CPCB estimate in 2015 says that Indian cities generate 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste daily and about 70% of the plastic produced in the country ends up as waste.
- Seventeen States have plastic bans, on paper.
- Experts have rued the inadequacy of collection and recycling systems to address the burgeoning plastic waste problem.
- The UNEA lauded India for playing a key role in advocating a time-bound ban on single use plastic.
- A person privy to negotiations told that India didn’t work enough to garner international support to carry it all the way through.
Curbing Nitrogen pollution
- Along with plastic, India also piloted a resolution on curbing nitrogen pollution.
- The global nitrogen-use efficiency is low, resulting in pollution by reactive nitrogen which threatens human health, ecosystem services, contributes to climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion.
- Only a small proportion of the plastics produced globally are recycled, with most of it damaging the environment and aquatic bio-diversity.
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