Note4Students/Syllabus Mapping: GS3
The quantum of solid waste is ever increasing due to increase in population, developmental activities, changes in life style, and socio-economic conditions, Plastics waste is a significant portion of the total municipal solid waste (MSW). The Government through MoEF&CC has notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, in suppression of the earlier Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011. The new Plastic Waste Management Rules is a part of the revamping of all Waste Management Rules which will help in achieving the vision of Swacch Bharat and cleanliness essential health and tourism and hence important for CSE Mains 2017.
What comprises Plastic waste? What are its components?
- The plastics waste constitutes two major categories of plastics – Thermoplastics and Thermoset plastics.
- Thermoplastics constitute 80% and Thermoset constitutes approximately 20% of total post-consumer plastics waste generated in India.
- The Thermoplastics are recyclable plastics which include; Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Low Density Poly Ethylene (LDPE), Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC), High Density Poly Ethylene (HDPE), Polypropylene(PP), Polystyrene (PS) etc.
- The Thermoset plastics contains alkyd, epoxy, ester, melamine formaldehyde, phenol formaldehyde, silicon, urea formaldehyde, polyurethane, metalized and multilayer plastics etc.
Why is there a dire need for Plastic waste management?
- It is stated that 15, 000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated every day, out of which 9, 000 tonnes is collected and processed, but 6, 000 tonnes of plastic waste is not being collected.
- In particular, the plastic carry bags are the biggest contributors of littered waste and every year, millions of plastic bags end up in to the environment vis-a-vis soil, water bodies, water courses and it takes an average of one thousand years to decompose completely.
- In the absence of a reliable eco friendly alternative that can replace plastic completely, the real challenge is to improve plastic waste management systems.
Plastic Waste (Management) Rules, 2016 – What’s New?
- The new plastic waste management rules is aimed at reducing 6,000 tonnes of uncollected plastic waste generated daily by targeting manufacturers and industries by using a new principle called the Extended Producers’ Responsibility (EPR) Act. The other modalities of the new plastic management rules are as follows:
- Increase minimum thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 to 50 microns and stipulate minimum thickness of 50 micron for plastic sheets also to facilitate collection and recycle of plastic waste.
- Expand the jurisdiction of applicability from the municipal area to rural areas, because plastic has reached rural areas also.
- To bring in the responsibilities of producers and generators, both in plastic waste management system and to introduce collect back system of plastic waste by the producers/brand owners, as per Extended Producers Responsibility.
- To introduce collection of plastic waste management fee through pre-registration of the producers, importers of plastic carry bags/multilayered packaging and vendors selling the same for establishing the waste management system.
- To promote use of plastic waste for road construction as per Indian Road Congress guidelines or energy recovery, or waste to oil etc. for gainful utilization of waste and also addresses the waste disposal issue.
- To entrust more responsibility on waste generators, namely payment of user charge as prescribed by local authority, collection and handing over of waste by the institutional generator, event organizers.
- To implement these rules more effectively and to give thrust on plastic waste minimization, source segregation, recycling, involving waste pickers, recyclers and waste processors in collection of plastic waste and adopt polluter pays principle for the sustainability of the waste management system.
Missing Links in the revised Plastic Waste management rules
- Though the rules have broadened the scope of the existing Plastic (waste management and handling) Rules, 2011, there is no mention on how to reduce plastic waste in the new rules.
- While it has focused on the use of plastic carry bags by increasing the minimum thickness from 40 microns to 50 microns, there has been no specification on the other forms of plastics such as the mineral water bottles (PET).
- One aspect that was not dealt with was the informal sector of waste collection. In Delhi, the informal sector employs about 150,000 people who transport almost 1,088 tonnes per day of recyclable waste
- The rules do not provide for a law which needs to be based around incentives and disincentives.
- Plastic waste management has worked for some states such as Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim. But it has failed in Delhi. The draft rules have not worked on developing an effective model for plastic waste management all across the country.
- There has been no mention of any scheme or mechanism through which a producer/manufacturer shall comply with EPR, like the Deposit Refund Scheme (DRS) under e-waste rules.
- They do not mention plastic material for packaging gutkha, pan masala and tobacco.
The rules need to be strengthened further. Their main purpose should be to discourage the use of plastic in the country. EPR is still loose and needs to be worked upon for better implementation of these rules. A clear directive of how EPR should be followed needs to be included. The penal provisions are weak and need to be worked upon. There should be inclusion of a heavy penalty for non-compliance with the rules for effective implementation.
India generates almost 1.5 MT of plastic waste every year. Less than a quarter of the waste is being collected and treated. Until we find a reliable eco friendly alternative to plastic that can replace it completely, effective plastic management systems should be our imperative.