Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Gaps in draft regulations on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EPR

Mains level : Paper 3- Regulations on EPR and issues with them


In October, the Environment Ministry published draft regulations on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), set to come into effect by the end of this year. These regulations denote a backslide, particularly with respect to integration of the informal sector.

What is EPR?

  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) requires the manufacturer of a product, or the party that introduces the product into the community, to take responsibility for its life cycle.
  • An FMCG company should not only account for the costs of making, packing and distributing a packet of chips, but also for the collection and recycling/reuse of the packet.

Shortcomings in the guidelines

The guidelines fall short in three areas: people, plastics and processing.

[1] Integration of informal sector is lacking

  • By failing to mention waste pickers or outlining mechanisms for their incorporation under EPR, the guidelines are retrogressive.
  • For decades, waste pickers, working in dangerous and unsanitary conditions, have picked up what we throw away.
  • Besides, by diverting waste towards recycling and reuse, waste pickers also subsidise local governments responsible for solid waste management.
  • Further, they reduce the amount of waste accumulating in cities, water bodies and dumpsites and increase recycling and reuse, creating environmental and public health benefits.
  • Between 1.5 and 4 million waste pickers in India work without social security, health insurance, minimum wages or basic protective gear.
  • Suggestions:  An effective EPR framework should address the issue of plastics and plastic waste management in tandem with the existing machinery, minimise duplication and lead to a positive environmental impact, with monitoring mechanisms including penalties for non-compliance.
  • EPR funds could be deployed for mapping and registration of the informal sector actors, building their capacity, upgrading infrastructure, promoting technology transfer, and creating closed loop feedback and monitoring mechanisms.

[2] The scope of plastic covered need to be altered

  • The EPR guidelines are limited to plastic packaging.
  • There are other multi-material plastic items like sanitary pads, chappals, and polyester that pose a huge waste management challenge today, but have been left out of the scope of EPR.
  • Three categories of plastic packaging: Plastic packaging can be roughly grouped into three categories: recyclable and effectively handled by the informal sector, technologically recyclable but not economically viable to recycle, technologically challenging to recycle (or non-recyclable).
  • [1] Rigid plastics like PET and HDPE are effectively recycled.
  • Suggestion: The government could support and strengthen the informal recycling chain by bridging gaps in adequate physical spaces, infrastructure, etc.
  • [2] Typically flexible plastics like LDPE and PP bags are recyclable, but due to their contamination with organic waste, lightweight, and high volume, the costs of recycling are prohibitively expensive relative to the market value of the output.
  • Suggestion: Market value for these plastics can be increased by increasing the demand for and use of recycled plastics in packaging, thus creating the value to accommodate the current costs of recycling.
  • [3] Multi-layered and multi-material plastics are low weight and voluminous, making them expensive to handle and transport.
  • Since they are primarily used in food packaging, they often attract rodents, making storage problematic.
  • Even if this plastic is picked, recycling is technologically challenging as it is heterogeneous material.
  • The Plastic Waste Management Rules mandated the phase-out of these plastics.
  • However, in 2018, this mandate was reversed.

[3] Processing technologies need to be closely evaluated

  • Not all processing is recycling.
  • Processes like waste-to-energy, co-processing and incineration have been proven to release carbon dioxide, particulate matter, harmful dioxins and furans which have negative climate and health impacts.
  • While the environmental impact and desirability of these processes continues to be debated, the draft regulations legitimise them to justify the continued production of multi-layered plastics.
  • Technologies like chemical recycling and pyrolysis are capital-intensive, yielding low returns and running into frequent breakdowns and technological problems.
  • They also release carbon dioxide and other pollutants.
  • These end-of-life processes are economically, environmentally and operationally unsustainable.
  • A number of gasification, pyrolysis and other chemical recycling projects have figured in accidents such as fires, explosions and financial losses.

Way forward

  • Address issues of the informal sector: The consultation process should involve informal workers.
  • Alter the scope of plastics covered: The scope of plastics covered by the guidelines could be altered to exclude those plastics which are already efficiently recycled and to include other plastic and multi-material items.
  • Processing technologies should be closely evaluated: And end-of-life processing technologies should be closely evaluated, based not only on their health and environmental impacts, but also on the implications for continued production of low-quality and multi-layered plastics.

Consider the question ” The Environment Ministry published draft regulations on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Examine the issues with the regulations and suggest the way forward” 


In conclusion, the government should redo the consultation process for the draft guidelines.

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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Plastic Waste Collection


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Mains level : Need for plastic waste management

The Environment Ministry has issued draft rules that mandate producers of plastic packaging material to collect all of their produce by 2024 and ensure that a minimum percentage of it be recycled as well as used in subsequent supply.

What is EPR?

  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) means the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product (plastic packaging) until the end of its life.
  • India had first introduced EPR in 2011 under the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 and E-Waste Management and Handling Rules, 2011.

What are the new EPR rules for Plastic Waste?

(A) Plastic packaging

  • The new EPR guidelines covers three categories of plastic packaging including:
  1. Rigid plastic
  2. Flexible plastic packaging of single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic sheets and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags (including carry bags made of compostable plastics), plastic sachet or pouches
  3. Multi-layered plastic packaging which has at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic.
  • It has also specified a system whereby makers and users of plastic packaging can collect certificates — called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) certificates — and trade in them.

(B) Ineligible plastics for EPR

  • Only a fraction of plastic that cannot be recycled will be eligible to be sent for end-of-life disposal such as road construction, waste to energy, waste to oil and cement kilns.
  • Only methods prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board will be permitted for their disposal.

Targets for recycling

  • In 2024, a minimum 50% of their rigid plastic (category 1) will have to be recycled as will 30% of their category 2 and 3 plastic.
  • Every year will see progressively higher targets and after 2026-27, 80% of their category 1 and 60% of the other two categories will need to be recycled.
  • If entities cannot fulfil their obligations, they will on a “case by case basis” be permitted to buy certificates making up for their shortfall.

Effects on non-compliance

  • Non-compliance, however, will not invite a traditional fine.
  • Instead, an “environmental compensation” will be levied, though the rules do not specify how much this compensation will be.

Challenges in mandatory EPR

There are several challenges faced by both producers and bulk consumers that hinder proactive participation.

  • Consumer awareness: Waste segregation has been the greatest challenge in India owing to lack of consumer awareness.
  • Lack of compliance: The plastic producers do not wish to engage in the process holistically and take the effort to build awareness.
  • Large scale involvement: The EPR doesn’t take into account the formalization of informal waste pickers, aggregators and dismantlers.
  • Lack of recycle infrastructure: These challenges range from lack of handling capacity to illegitimate facilities in the forms of multiple accounting of waste, selling to aggregators and leakages.

Way forward

  • Tracking mechanism: What India needs is to develop tracking mechanisms and provide oversight of waste compliance, in order to ensure that the mechanism of waste disposal is streamlined.
  • Strict enforcement: While enforcement strictness is of paramount importance, it is also vital to build an incentive structure around this to ensure better complicity by the producers.
  • Innovation: The time is ripe for innovators to come up with an alternative for plastics and the strong will of the Government to rid the toxic waste in a sustainable and safe manner.

Try answering this PYQ:

Q.In India, ‘extended producer responsibility’ was introduced as an important feature in which of the following?

(a) The Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998

(b) The Recycled Plastic (Manufacturing and Usage) Rules, 1999

(c) The e-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011

(d) The Food Safety and Standard Regulations, 2011


Post your answers here.
Please leave a feedback on thisx


Also read:

[Burning Issue] Ban on Single Use Plastics


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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

IISc finds alternative for single-use plastics


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Allternative fibres to plastic

Mains level : Phasing out single use plastics

Researchers from the Department of Material Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru (IISc) have found a way to make a substitute for single-use plastic that can, in principle help mitigate the problem of accumulating plastic waste in the environment.

What is the new material?

  • IISc has developed polymers using non-edible oil and cellulose extracted from agricultural stubble.
  • These polymers can be moulded into sheets having properties suitable for making bags, cutlery or containers.
  • The material so made is bio-degradable, leak-proof and non-toxic.

Key features

  • In order to obtain sheets with properties like flexibility suitable for making different articles, the researchers played with the proportions of cellulose to non-edible oil.
  • The more cellulose they added, and less non-edible oil, the stiffer was the material, so that it was more suitable to making tumblers and cutlery.
  • The greater the proportion of oil, the more flexible was the material and it could be moulded into sheets for making bags.

Why needed?

Ans. Plastic waste menace in India

  • According to a report by Central Pollution Control Board of India, for the year 2018-2019, 3.3 million metric tonnes of plastic waste are generated by Indians.
  • The bad news is that this may well be an under-estimation of the problem.
  • Another alarming statistic is that of all the plastic waste produced in the world, 79% enters the environment.
  • Only 9% of all plastic waste is recycled.
  • Accumulation of plastic waste is detrimental to the environment and when this waste finds its way into the sea, there can be major harm to aquatic ecosystems, too.

Agricultural stubble

  • While plastic waste causes one type of pollution, agricultural stubble burning is responsible for air pollution in several States.
  • In Delhi, for example, the air quality index dips to indicate “severe” or “hazardous” level of pollution every winter, and this is due in part to the burning of agricultural stubble in the surrounding regions.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2020:

Which of the following statements are correct regarding the general difference between plant and animal cells?

  1. Plant cells have cellulose cell walls whilst animal cells do not.
  2. Plant cells do not have plasma membranes unlike animal cells which do.
  3. Mature plant cell has one large vacuole whilst animal cell has many small vacuoles.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3


Post your answers here.
Please leave a feedback on thisx

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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021


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:
  1. ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene [thermocol] for decoration
  2. 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).

The problem

  • 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.

Way forward

  • 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.


Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

What is India Plastics Pact?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Plastics Pact

Mains level : Elimination of single use plastics

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has long been at the forefront of having an India Plastic Pact.

What are Plastics Pacts?

  • The Plastics Pacts are business-led initiatives and transform the plastics packaging value chain for all formats and products.
  • The Pacts bring together everyone from across the plastics value chain to implement practical solutions.
  • All Pacts unite behind four targets:
  1. to eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging through redesign and innovation;
  2. to ensure all plastic packaging is reusable or recyclable;
  3. to increase the reuse, collection, and
  4. recycling of plastic packaging; and to increase recycled content in plastic packaging

India Plastics Pact

  • The India Plastics Pact, the first in Asia, will be launched in September at the CII Annual Sustainability Summit.
  • It can be expected to boost demand for recycled content, investments in recycling infrastructure, jobs in the waste sector, and beyond.
  • The first Plastics Pact was launched in the U.K. in 2018.
  • The India Plastics Pact is supported by WRAP (UK based NGO), which supports many Pacts globally.
  • This association will ensure access to expertise and knowledge from different Pacts worldwide.

Key provisions of the pact

  • Pact will support the Extended Producer Responsibility framework of the government and improve solid waste management as envisioned in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
  • Integral to the Pact’s framework is the involvement of the informal waste sector crucial to post-consumer segregation, collection and processing of plastic waste.
  • While the India Plastics Pact will be active in India, it will link globally with other Plastics Pacts.

How would this work?

  • The Plastics Pact is a network of initiatives that bring together all key stakeholders at the national or regional level to implement solutions towards a circular economy for plastics.
  • Each initiative is led by a local organization and unites governments, businesses, and citizens behind the common vision with a concrete set of ambitious local targets, for example in the following areas:
  1. Eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging through redesign and innovation
  2. Move from single-use to reuse where relevant
  3. Ensure all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable
  4. Increase the reuse, collection, and recycling or composting of plastic packaging
  5. Increase recycled content in plastic packaging

Benefits offered

  • Many Indian businesses and organizations have expressed an interest in signing up to the Pact.
  • Deeper and long-lasting benefits will be felt across the supply chains of these businesses, most of which comprise MSMEs.
  • The Pact will encourage the development and maturing of the entire plastics production and management ecosystem.
  • Apart from benefits to society and the economy, delivering the targets will drive the circularity of plastics and help tackle pollution. They will lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Why need such pact?

  • Of the many sustainability challenges that impact societies, climate change and plastic waste have a special significance.
  • A 2019 report by the Center for International Environmental Law suggests that by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from plastic could reach over 56 gigatonnes, 10-13% of the remaining carbon budget.
  • However, viewed from the angle of livelihoods, post-consumer segregation, collection and disposal of plastics make up about half of the income of 1.5- 4 million waste-pickers in India.

Way forward

  • For India, the solution must be multi-pronged, systemic, and large scale, to create a visible impact.
  • The India Plastics Pact focuses on solutions and innovation.
  • Members’ accountability is ensured through ambitious targets and annual data reporting.
  • The Pact will develop a road map for guidance, form action groups composed of members, and initiate innovation projects.

Try answering this PYQ:

Q. In India, ‘extended producer responsibility’ was introduced as an important feature in which of the following? (CSP 2019)

(a) The Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998

(b) The Recycled plastic (Manufacturing and Usage) Rules, 1999

(c) The e-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011

(d) The Food Safety and Standard Regulations, 2011


Post your answers here:

Please leave a feedback on thisx

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

A circular economy for plastic


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Plastics Pact

Mains level : Paper 3- Plastic waste challenge


The India Plastics Pact, the first in Asia, will be launched in September at the CII Annual Sustainability Summit.

Issue of plastic waste

  • A 2019 report by the Center for International Environmental Law suggests that by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from plastic could reach over 56 gigatonnes, 10-13% of the remaining carbon budget.
  • Connection with livelihood: Viewed from the angle of livelihoods, post-consumer segregation, collection and disposal of plastics make up about half of the income of 1.5- 4 million waste-pickers in India.
  • For India, the solution must be multi-pronged, systemic, and large scale, to create a visible impact. The Plastics Pacts model offers such a solution.

About Plastics Pacts model

  • Business-led initiative: The Plastics Pacts are business-led initiatives and transform the plastics packaging value chain for all formats and products.
  • The Pacts bring together everyone from across the plastics value chain to implement practical solutions.
  • Integral to the Pact’s framework is the involvement of the informal waste sector crucial to post-consumer segregation, collection and processing of plastic waste. 
  • All Pacts unite behind four targets:
  • 1) To eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging through redesign and innovation.
  • 2) To ensure all plastic packaging is reusable or recyclable.
  • 3) To increase the reuse, collection, and recycling of plastic packaging.
  • 4) To increase recycled content in plastic packaging.
  • It is active in a number of countries including the U.K., South Africa, and Australia.
  • The first Plastics Pact was launched in the U.K. in 2018, by WRAP, a global NGO based in the U.K.
  • It is now being brought to India by CII and WWF India.


  • Economic advantage: It can be expected to boost demand for recycled content, investments in recycling infrastructure, jobs in the waste sector, and beyond.
  • Support EPR framework: The Pact will support the Extended Producer Responsibility framework of the government and improve solid waste management as envisioned in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
  • The India Plastics Pact focuses on solutions and innovation.
  • Plastic production and management development: The Pact will encourage the development and maturing of the entire plastics production and management ecosystem.
  • Drive circulatory of plastic: Apart from benefits to society and economy, delivering the targets will drive the circularity of plastics and help tackle pollution.


The India Plastics Pact will benefit society, the economy and the environment.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

How India can face the tidal wave of marine plastic


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Plastic waste

Mains level : Need for plastic waste management

The problem of marine plastic pollution has reached a new peak. Hence it must be tackled from various perspectives. This article discusses some of them.

Plastic use in India

  • The Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) Annual Report on Implementing the Plastic Garbage Rules, 2016, is the only regular estimate of the quantum of plastic waste generated in India.
  • According to it, the waste generated in 2018-19 was 3,360,043 tonnes per year (roughly 9,200 tonnes per day).
  • Given that total municipal solid waste generation is between 55 and 65 million tonnes per day, plastic waste contributes about 5-6 per cent of total solid waste generated in India.

What happens to Plastic Waste?

  • Only nine per cent of all plastic waste has ever been recycled.
  • Approximately 12 per cent has been burnt, while the remaining 79 per cent has accumulated in landfills.
  • Plastic waste is blocking our sewers, threatening marine life and generating health risks for residents in landfills or the natural environment.

Marine plastic pollution

  • Incredibly vast and deep, the ocean acts as a huge sink for global pollution. Some of the plastic in the ocean originates from ships that lose cargo at sea.
  • Abandoned plastic fishing nets and longlines – known as ghost gear – is also a large source, making up about 10% of plastic waste at sea.
  • Marine aquaculture contributes to the problem, too, mainly when the polystyrene foam that’s used to make the floating frames of fish cages makes its way into the sea.
  • The financial costs of marine plastic pollution are significant as well.
  • According to conservative forecasts made in March 2020, the direct harm to the blue economy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will be $2.1 billion per year.

Threats posed to coastal areas

  • Enormous social costs accompany these economic costs.
  • Residents of coastal regions suffer from the harmful health impacts of plastic pollution and waste brought in by the tides and are inextricably linked to the fishing and tourism industry for their livelihoods.
  • Therefore, we must begin finding solutions to prevent plastics and other waste from polluting our oceans and clean them up.

Tackling the issue

The problem of marine plastic pollution can — and must — be tackled from a range of perspectives. Some of the solutions are as follows:

1.Designing a product: Identifying plastic items that can be replaced with non-plastic, recyclable, or biodegradable materials is the first step. Find alternatives to single-use plastics and reusable design goods by working with product designers.

2.Pricing: Plastics are inexpensive because they are made with substantially subsidized oil and may be produced at a lower cost, with fewer economic incentives to employ recycled plastics.

3.Technologies and Innovation: Developing tools and technology to assist governments and organizations in measuring and monitoring plastic garbage in cities. ‘Closing the loop’ project of the UN assists cities in developing more inventive policy solutions to tackle the problem. A similar approach can be adopted in India. 

4.Promoting a plastic-free workplace: All catering operations should be prohibited from using single-use plastics. To encourage workers and clients to improve their habits, all single-use goods can be replaced with reusable items or more sustainable alternatives.

5.Producer responsibility: Extended responsibility can be applied in the retail (packaging) sector, where producers are responsible for collecting and recycling products that they launch into the market.

6.Municipal and community actions: Beach and river clean-ups, public awareness campaigns explaining how people’s actions contribute to marine plastic pollution (or how they may solve it) and disposable plastic bag bans and levies.

7.Multi-stakeholder collaboration: Government ministries at the national and local levels must collaborate in the development, implementation and oversight of policies, which includes participation from industrial firms, non-governmental organisations and volunteer organisations. Instead of acting in silos, all these stakeholders must collaborate and synchronise with one another.

Way forward

  • Solving the problem of marine plastic involves a change in production and consumption habits, which would help meet the SDGs.
  • Apart from the solutions mentioned above, the government can take several steps to combat plastic pollution.
  • Identifying hotspots for plastic leakage can assist governments in developing effective policies that address the plastic problem directly.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Why is there a great concern about the ‘microbeads’ that are released into environment? (CSP 2019)

(a) They are considered harmful to marine ecosystems.

(b) They are considered to cause skin cancer in children.

(c) They are small enough to be absorbed by crop plants in irrigated fi elds.

(d) They are often found to be used as food adulterants.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Draft Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2021


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Single use plastics

Mains level : Phasing out single use plastics

The draft Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2021, issued by the MoEFCC has necessitated a few changes in the country’s handling of its plastic waste.


  • The Environment Ministry had first notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules in March 2016.
  • It had provisions for effective and improved collection, segregation, processing, treatment and disposal of plastic waste.

What are the 2021 rules?

Phasing out Single-use Plastics

Single-use plastics have been defined under the rules as “a plastic commodity intended to be used once for the same purpose before being disposed of or recycled”.

  • The rules have proposed to ban the manufacture, use, sale, import and handling of some single-use plastic items on a ‘pan India basis.
  • The provisions will also apply to ‘multi-layered packaging’ – involved extensively in e-commerce and deliver services- but will exempt packaging used for imported goods.
  • They shall apply to every waste generator, local body, Gram Panchayat, manufacturer, Importers and producer as well as ‘brand-owner and “plastic waste processor (recycler, co-processor, etc.)
  • Thermoset plastic and Thermoplastic will also fall within the ambit of these rules.
  • These provisions will, however, not apply to commodities (including carrying bags) made of compostable plastic material, according to the rules.

The draft is proposed to be implemented in three stages starting this year and culminating in mid-2022.

Stage I

  • The first set of rules propose that each sheet of non-woven plastic carry bag shall not be less than 60 (GSM per square metre) or 240 microns in thickness. A carry bag made of virgin or recycled plastic shall not be less than 120 microns, with effect from the same date.

Stage II

  • The second stage will come into effect when six categories of single-use plastic — earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration — will be banned for sale, use, manufacture, stocking, import and distribution.

Stage III

  • In the third stage, the list of banned items will grow to include single-use plastic plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping/packing films around sweet boxes; invitation cards; cigarette packets, plastic/PVC banners less than 100 micron and stirrers.

Local bodies and state pollution control boards will ensure the implementation and enforcement of these rules.

What else is covered?

One, the amendment has extended the applicability of the rules to brand-owner, plastic waste processor, including the recycler, co-processor, etc.  It will also include new definitions of:

  • Non-woven plastic bag
  • Plastic waste processing
  • Single-use plastic (SUP) item
  • Thermoset plastic
  • Thermoplastic

Try this PYQ:

Q.In India, ‘extended producer responsibility’ was introduced as an important feature in which of the following?

(a) The Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998

(b) The Recycled Plastic (Manufacturing and Usage) Rules, 1999

(c) The e-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011

(d) The Food Safety and Standard Regulations, 2011

Why such a move?

  • 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.
  • 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 what Delhi generates (37 grams per capita per day).
  • Clearly, we do not know the amount of plastic we generate as a country, as the increase in wealth and affluence contributes to a higher generation of plastic waste.
  • Despite the Plastic Waste Management legislation of 2011, followed by numerous changes in the recent past, most parts of the country lack systematic efforts required to mitigate the risks associated with plastic waste.

Way ahead

Managing plastic waste requires effective knowledge, not only among those who produce 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 inventorize 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 minimised.
  • 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.


  • Plastic, without a doubt, is a miracle commodity that has uses ranging from increasing shelf lives of eatables to medical equipment and automotive.
  • Their waste management needs due attention. And the draft policies is a significant step in this direction.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Converting waste to energy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Refuse-derived fuel (RDF)

Mains level : MSW management

The new plant at Bidadi has several advantages but also some operational challenges.

Practice Question: Discuss the various benefits of waste to energy plants and challenges in running them successfully.

The prospectus of new plant

  • The new 5 MW waste-to-energy plant is going to set up near Bidadi, Karnataka.
  • This plant is expected to process 600 tonnes per day of inorganic waste.
  • The inorganic waste, which consists of bad quality plastics and used cloth pieces, can be processed as Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF). This material has a calorific value of more than 2,500 kJ/kg.
  • This can be used to generate steam energy, which can be converted into electric energy.

A well-planned plant

  • The waste-to-energy plants usually accept the RDF material generated in organic composting plants.
  • They also segregate the wet and inorganic material near the plant, convert organic waste to compost, and inorganic waste to energy.
  • About 50 tonnes of RDF generate 1 MW of power, which indicates that the plant at Bidadi has been appropriately designed.

A permanent solution

  • Handling inorganic waste that is not fit for recycling has always been a challenge.
  • At present, these high-calorific materials are landfilled or left unhandled in waste plants and cause fire accidents.
  • Attempts to send this material to cement kilns have not fructified.
  • The proposed plant can source 600 tonnes per day of this RDF and generate 11.5 MW of power equivalent to 2.4 lakh units of power per day.
  • This will reduce the dependence on unscientific landfills, reduce fire accidents, and provide a permanent solution to recover value from inorganic waste.


  • Needed a good demonstration model – Over the last decade, several Indian cities have been trying to set up such plants but a good demonstration model is yet to be established.
  • Nature of waste – Technology suppliers are international organizations who struggle with the change in quality and nature of waste generated in Indian cities. A few plants in India have stopped operations for this reason.
  • The plants require fine inorganic material with less than 5% moisture and less than 5% silt and soil contents, whereas the moisture and inert content in the mixed waste generated is more than 15%-20%.
  • The sticky silt and soil particles can also reduce the calorific value.
  • Economic cost per unit of electricity – The other big challenge for this plant is the power tariff which is around ₹7-8 KwH which is higher than the ₹3-4 per KwH generated through coal and other means.

Way forward

  • For the successful running, the plant needs to ease the challenge of handling inorganic waste, the efficiency of organic waste processing/ composting plants.
  • With the increasing waste generation in the coming years, there is a need for more such plants which are environment friendly. 

Back2Basics: Refuse-derived fuel (RDF)

  • Refuse-derived fuel (RDF) is a fuel produced from various types of waste such as municipal solid waste (MSW), industrial waste or commercial waste.
  • It is selected waste and by-products with recoverable calorific value can be used as fuels in a cement kiln, replacing a portion of conventional fossil fuels, like coal, if they meet strict specifications.
  • Sometimes they can only be used after pre-processing to provide ‘tailor-made’ fuels for the cement process.
  • RDF consists largely of combustible components of such waste, as non-recyclable plastics (not including PVC), paper cardboard, labels, and other corrugated materials.
  • These fractions are separated by different processing steps, such as screening, air classification, ballistic separation, separation of ferrous and non-ferrous materials, glass, stones and other foreign materials and shredding into a uniform grain size, or also pelletized.
  • This produces a homogeneous material which can be used as a substitute for fossil fuels in e.g. cement plants, lime plants, coal-fired power plants or as a reduction agent in steel furnaces.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

What is Pyrolysis?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pyrolysis

Mains level : Not Much

Plastic from used personal protective equipment (PPE) can be transformed into renewable liquid fuels using chemical a process called pyrolysis, says a new study.

Try this PYQ:

Q.In the context of which one of the following are the terms ‘pyrolysis and plasma gasification’ mentioned? (CSP 2019)

(a) Extraction of rare earth elements

(b) Natural gas extraction technologies

(c) Hydrogen fuel-based automobiles

(d) Waste-to-energy technologies

What is Pyrolysis?

  • Pyrolysis is the thermal decomposition of materials at elevated temperatures in an inert atmosphere.
  • It involves a change in chemical composition. The word is coined from the Greek-derived elements pyro “fire” and lysis “separating”.
  • It is most commonly used in the treatment of organic materials. It is one of the processes involved in charring wood.
  • It is considered as the first step in the processes of gasification or combustion.

How does it work?

  • In general, pyrolysis of organic substances produces volatile products and leaves a solid residue enriched in carbon, char.
  • Extreme pyrolysis, which leaves mostly carbon as the residue, is called carbonization.
  • The process is used heavily in the chemical industry, for example, to produce ethylene, many forms of carbon, and other chemicals from petroleum, coal, and even wood, to produce coke from coal.


  • Aspirational applications of pyrolysis would convert biomass into syngas and biochar, waste plastics back into usable oil, or waste into safely disposable substances.

Limitations and Concerns

  • The technology requires drying of soil prior to treatment.
  • Limited performance data are available for systems treating hazardous wastes containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and other organics.
  • There is concern that systems that destroy chlorinated organic molecules by heat have the potential to create products of incomplete combustion, including dioxins and furans.
  • These compounds are extremely toxic in the parts per trillion range.
  • The molten salt is usually recycled in the reactor chamber. However, depending on the waste treated (especially inorganics) and the amount of ash, spent molten salt may be hazardous and require special care in disposal.
  • Pyrolysis is not effective in either destroying or physically separating inorganics from the contaminated medium.
  • Volatile metals may be removed as a result of the higher temperatures associated with the process, but they are not destroyed.
  • When the off-gases are cooled, liquids condense, producing an oil/tar residue and contaminated water.
  • These oils and tars may be hazardous wastes, requiring proper treatment, storage, and disposal.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

In news: Ghazipur Landfill


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Landfills

Mains level : Social and environmental threats posed by Landfills

The Ghazipur landfill site rises by nearly 10 metres a year and is expected to surpass the height of Qutub Minar and other vertical structures in the country.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2016:

Q.What can be the impact of excessive/inappropriate use of nitrogenous fertilizers in agriculture?

  1. Proliferation of nitrogen-fixing microorganisms in soil can occur.
  2. Increase in the acidity of soil can take place.
  3. Leaching of nitrate to the ground-water can occur.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

What are Landfills?

  • A landfill site, also known as a tip, dump, rubbish dump, garbage dump, or dumping ground, is a site for the disposal of waste materials.
  • Some landfill sites are also used for waste management purposes, such as temporary storage, consolidation and transfer, or for various stages of processing waste material, such as sorting, treatment, or recycling.

Threats posed by landfills

Landfills have the potential to cause a number of issues. Infrastructure disruption, such as damage to access roads by heavy vehicles, may occur amongst others.

1) Leachate

  • When precipitation falls on open landfills, water percolates through the garbage and becomes contaminated with suspended and dissolved material, forming leachate.
  • If this is not contained it can contaminate groundwater.

2) Decomposition gases

  • Rotting food and other decaying organic waste create decomposition gases, especially CO2 and CH4 from aerobic and anaerobic decomposition, respectively.
  • Both processes occur simultaneously in different parts of a landfill.

3) Other threats

  • Poorly run landfills may become nuisances because of vectors such as rats and flies which can spread infectious diseases.
  • The occurrence of such vectors can be mitigated through the use of daily cover.
  • Other potential issues include wildlife disruption due to occupation of habitat and animal health disruption caused by consuming waste from landfills, dust, odour, noise pollution, and reduced local property values.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Private: E-waste Management in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Need for e-waste management in India

A record 53.6 million tonnes of electronic waste was generated globally in 2019, up by 21 per cent in just five years, according to the UN’s Global E-waste Monitor 2020 released recently
With 10.1 million tonnes, China was the biggest contributor to e-waste, and the United States was second with 6.9 million tonnes. India, with 3.2 million tonnes, was the third biggest contributor.

What is e-waste?

Electronic waste or e-waste refers to electronic products which have become unwanted, obsolete and have reached the end of their useful life. It refers to all electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) and its parts that have been discarded by its owner as waste without the intent of reuse.

What are the impacts of E-waste on the environment and human health?


  • Disassembling and shredding of e-waste generate dust or large particulates into the surroundings and affects the respiratory health of waste management workers and others.
  • Moreover, unregulated burning of e-waste produces toxin especially brominated & chlorinated dioxins which are toxic and damaging to both neurological and immune system of humans and animals.


  • (Landfills are not properly designed to hold e-waste + Illegal dump sites + Improper recycling & disposal of e-waste) = compounds leach into the ground = Groundwater gets toxified due to heavy metals from e-waste.


  • Soil is contaminated by direct contact with contaminants from e-waste or its by-products from recycling & disposal + indirectly through irrigation.
  • Soils become toxic when substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and polychlorinated biphenyls(PCBs) are deposited in landfills.
  • Contaminated soils have bad impacts on microbes and plants => the pollutants reach higher animals or humans through the food chain.

What are the international initiatives regarding E-waste?

1.Basel Convention on the Control of the Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous Waste, 1992

  • Originally, the Basel convention did not mention e-waste. E-waste was included only in 2006 (COP8).
  • The convention seeks to ensure environmentally sound management, prevention of illegal traffic to developing countries and building capacity to manage e-waste.
  • COP9 of the Basel convention adopted the Nairobi declaration which seeks to create innovative solutions for the environmentally sound management of e-waste.

2.Rotterdam Convention, 2004

It seeks to promote information exchange among parties over a range of potentially hazardous chemicals (including pesticides & industrial chemicals) that may be imported or exported.

What are the initiatives taken by India?

  • Until 2011, E-waste was dealt with under the Hazardous Waste Management (HWM) Rules.
  • In 2011, the E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 was enacted under the Environmental Protection Act 1986.
  • In 2016, the E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016 was enacted which replaced the 2011 rules and was eventually amended in 2018.

E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016:


  • It covers Producers, Consumers, Collection Centres, Dismantlers & Recyclers, Manufacturers, Dealers, Refurbishers, and Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs).
  • But Micro and Small Industries are exempted from its ambit.
  • The rules are applicable to several equipments/products, components, consumables, spares and parts of EEE.
  • Furthermore, Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) and other mercury-containing lamp are also covered under the rules.


  • The rules adopt collection based approach by introducing collection centres, collection point, take back system, etc. for collection of e-waste by producers under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Note: EPR is an environmental policy approach by which the responsibility of the producer for a product is extended to the post-utility stage of a product’s life cycle.
  • The rule provides for Pan India authorization of EPR by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) replacing the state-wise EPR authorization as provided under the 2011 rules.

Deposit refund scheme:

  • This serves as an additional economic instrument in which the producer charges an extra amount as a deposit during the sale of the equipment and returns it to the consumer along with interest when the used equipment is returned.

Liability for damages:

  • Liability for damages caused to the environment or third party because of improper management of e-waste has been introduced.
  • Financial penalty in case of violation of rules.

Role of State and Local Bodies:

  • States should ensure proper implementation of the rules.
  • Urban local bodies have been given the duty to collect and channelise the e-wastes to authorized dismantler or recycler.

Hazardous and other wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules 2016:

  • It seeks to ensure management, transboundary movement, resource recovery and disposal of hazardous waste in an environmentally sustainable manner.
  • Under the rules, waste electrical and electronic assemblies scrap are prohibited for import.


  • Awareness Program on Environmental Hazards of Electronic Waste: by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology which aims at providing training, tools, and films that seeks to create awareness and minimising the impact of e-waste on the environment and health.
  • Creation of Management Structure for Hazardous Substances:This programme aims at creating awareness among people regarding the 2016 rules and its implementation.
  • Swachh Digital Bharat: seeks to raise awareness among the public regarding the recycling of e-wastes by unorganised sector and to educate them about alternative methods of disposing of their e-waste. The general public is encouraged to participate in the programme, by giving their e-waste to authorised recyclers only.
  • Greene: is a dedicated portal which seeks to create awareness about e-waste via social media.

How E-wastes are being managed in India?

  • Around 95% of the recycling of e-waste in India is done by the informal/unorganised sector.
  • Informal e-waste recycling units are distributed all over India.
  • Informal sector mostly follows the steps mentioned below:
    1. Collection of e-waste from the rag pickers.
    2. Disassembly of the products for their useable parts, components, modules, which are having resell value.
    3. The rest of the material is chemically treated to recover precious/rare-earth metals. Non-recoverable materials are disposed of in landfills.
  • Organised or formal recycling units are very few in India. Unlike the informal sector, they use environmental-friendly methods for recycling of e-waste.

What are the issues or challenges with the E-waste management in India?

1.Lack of proper infrastructure & mechanism:

  • The number of present recycling and collection facilities does not match the amount of e-waste being generated in India.
  • Lack of effective collection and take-back system.
  • According to the ASSOCHAM study, only 5 percent of e-waste is formally recycled.

2.E-waste dumping by foreign countries:

  • Cross-border flow of waste equipment into India is a major problem.
  • India has been the destination of the hazardous and industrial wastes such as mercury, electronic and plastic wastes from the United States, asbestos from Canada, defective steel and tin plates from the EU, Australia and the US, Zinc ash, residues, lead waste and scrap, used batteries, etc. from European countries.

3.Issues with the informal sector:

  • Child Labour: ASSOCHAM report (2014) mentions that around 4.5 lakh child labourers are found to be engaged in several E-waste activities and that too without necessary protection and safeguards.
  • Occupational Health Hazard:Unscientific recycling methods + lack of proper safety gear = serious health effects to those employed in the informal sector.

4.Poor enforcement of EPR:

  • Setting up collection centres for entire India is not economically feasible for a company.
  • Customer care representatives do not know about their companies’ responsibility to take back what they produce (EPR).
  • The producers/manufacturers do not have adequate information on their website regarding e-waste management.

5.Gaps in rules:

  • E-waste rules have also been violated on a regular basis and the informal sector stays unregulated.
  • There is no mechanism to verify whether all firms have achieved their EPR targets. Notably, the verification is only done via random checks by CPCB.
  • Moreover, according to the law, the responsibility of producers is not limited to waste collection, but also to make sure that the waste reaches the authorised recycler. However, there is no mechanism to ensure that the waste collected by producers is not going to unauthorised recyclers.

6.Lack of incentives:

  • There are no incentive schemes to promote people adopting a formal path of recycling.
  • The GST imposed a hefty 12% tax on electronic recyclers = deterrent for formal recycling.

7.Lack of awareness:

  • There is a lack of awareness among people since they don’t know that there are collection centres exist to collect used electronics products for recycling.
  • Further, the lack of awareness results in poor segregation of waste.

Environmental concerns: Informal recycling and dumping of e-waste in landfills or burning of e-waste poses a serious threat to the environment and has far-reaching implications on animal and human health.

What is the way forward?

1.Checking unregulated e-waste imports: by strengthening the domestic legal framework.

2.Transition to formal: Measures needed to be taken to formalize the informal sector by integrating it with the formal sector.  The government should launch vocational training programs to rightly skill the present unorganized sector employees to make sure of their smoother transition to working with the organized sector.

3.R&D: The government must promote research into the development of better as well as environmentally-sustainable e-waste recycling methods.

4.Assessment: There is an urgent requirement for a detailed assessment of the E-waste including quantification, characteristics, current disposal practices, environmental impacts, etc.

5.Facilities: There is a need for more recycling facilities and the development of infrastructure to manage e-waste effectively. The government should promote Public-Private Partnership for setting up of e-waste collection, exchange, and recycling centres.

6.Incentives: There is a need for an effective take-back program by providing incentives to producers.

7.Mass awareness programmes: should be launched to promote consumers to reuse/ recycle electronic products and also educate them about the environmental and health impacts of e-waste.

Adopt Norway’s Model

  • Norway has an e-waste take-back system in place for more than a decade now.
  • The producers/importers of e-waste in Norway are obliged to be members of a take-back company and have to pay a fee for their membership to the take-back companies.
  • This is how it provides the funding for collection and treatment of the waste
  • Take-back companies need to ensure that they will collect all e-waste from their market share which is determined by how much of electronics is put into the market by their members.

Separate legislation:

  • The government should bring separate legislation on e-waste instead of handling it under the Environment Protection Act
  • Such legislation may call for establishing a central authority or a central public sector undertaking having experts from IT field and other technical domains possessing knowledge of e-waste disposal, management, and recycling techniques and its own e-waste collection centre/ recycling plants with state-of-art technologies, in all major cities of the country.From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :Prelims level : Not MuchMains level : Need for e-waste management in India

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Plastic waste management in pandemic


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SUP

Mains level : Paper 3- Plastic waste and its management

The threat posed by plastic waste to the environment is well established. The corona pandemic has led to an increase in plastic waste. This article suggests some ways to deal with the issue.

Rising plastic use during pandemic

  •  In 2018, a report by McKinsey estimated that, globally, we generate 350 million tonnes of plastic waste.
  • Only 16 per cent of it is recycled.
  • Today, due to pandemic the amount of plastic waste we are generating is much higher than that estimated in the McKinsey report.
  • The Guardian recently reported that there are possibly more masks than jellyfish in the oceans today.

Management of plastic in India

  • We have the Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2016, which were updated and amended in 2018.
  • In fact, India saw incredible momentum in its fight for effective management of plastic waste in the last year.
  • The Prime Minister made clarion calls for a jan andolan (people’s movement) to curb the use of single-use plastic(SUP).
  • Jan andolan was also to ensure proper disposal of all plastic waste.
  • Also, the entire country rallied together under the banner of the Swachhata Hi Seva campaign.

Why single-use plastic is different

  • Plastic is not the problem, our handling of it is.
  • We need plastic, but not SUP, which is difficult to dispose of effectively, and that is where the problem lies.
  • It is important to understand this distinction.
  • By understanding this distinction we may change our behaviour and our lifestyles, to balance our need for plastic with effectively managing its waste.

Way forward

  • One way to approach the issue is to treat it not just as an environmental problem but as an economic opportunity.
  •  We require new business models which are designed for sustainability.
  • In Uganda, they are melting plastic waste to make face shields which are being sold for just a dollar each.
  • But, most of all, we need a tectonic shift in the behaviour of consumers.
  • We need consumers to care about their role in the plastic waste value chain.
  • Under phase 2 of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) village communities are now starting to plan for setting up waste collection and segregation systems, with material recovery facilities at the block- level.
  • Change is possible when we take necessary steps to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and, when all else fails, Remove, or dispose of plastic waste safely and effectively.
  • Raising awareness amongst the public of the harm caused by plastic pollution through education and outreach programs to modify behavior.
    • A movement against plastic waste would have to prioritise the reduction of single-use plastic such as multi-layer packaging, bread bags, food wrap, and protective packaging.
  • Promote Alternatives, before the ban or levy comes into force, the availability of alternatives need to be assessed, hence the government may:
    • Provide economic incentives to encourage the uptake of eco-friendly and fit-for-purpose alternatives that do not cause more harm.
    • Support can include tax rebates, research and development funds, technology incubation, public-private partnerships and support to projects that recycle single-use items and turn waste into a resource that can be used again.
    • Reduce or abolish taxes on the import of materials used to make alternatives.
  • Provide incentives to the alternative industry by introducing tax rebates or other conditions to support its transition from plastic industry.
  • Expanding the use of biodegradable plastics or even edible plastics made from various materials such as bagasse (the residue after extracting juice from sugarcane), corn starch, and grain flour.
  • Use of microbeads in personal care products and cosmetics must be prohibited.
  • Target the most problematic single-use plastics by conducting a baseline assessment to identify the most problematic single-use plastics, as well as the current causes, extent and impacts of their mismanagement.
  • Consider the best actions to tackle the problem of plastic waste management (e.g. through regulatory, economic, awareness, voluntary actions) given the country’s socio-economic standing.
  • Assess the potential social, economic and environmental impacts (positive and negative) of the preferred short-listed plastic waste management measures/actions, by considering how will the poor be affected, or what impact will the preferred course of action have on different sectors and industries.
  • Identify and engage key stakeholder groups like retailers, consumers, industry representatives, local government, manufacturers, civil society, environmental groups, and tourism associations in order to ensure broad buy-in.
  • Explaining the decision and any punitive measures that will follow, as a result of non compliance of plastic management rule.
  • Use revenues collected from taxes or levies on single-use plastics to maximize the public good, thereby supporting environmental projects or boosting local recycling with the funds and creating jobs in the plastic recycling sector with seed funding.
  • Enforce the plastic waste management measure effectively, by making sure that there is clear allocation of roles and responsibilities.
  • Monitor and adjust the plastic waste management measure if necessary and update the public on progress.

Consider the question “What are the legal provisions for plastic waste management in India? Suggest the ways to deal with the issue of plastic waste effectively.”


The corona pandemic crisis should not blind us to the plastic crisis and we should try to bring about the behaviour change when it comes to the use of plastic and devise the economic model.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[pib] Regulation of Bio-Medical Waste


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Biomedical waste

Mains level : Treatment of Biomedical waste


The State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) / Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) have recently published the details of State/UT-wise quantum of bio-medical waste generation (during 2016-18) in the country.

Bio-Medical Waste

Biomedical waste/hospital waste is any kind of waste containing infectious materials.  It may also include waste associated with the generation of biomedical waste that visually appears to be of medical.

  • Hospital waste refers to all waste, biological or non‐ biological that is discarded and not intended for further use.
  • Bio-medical waste means any waste, which is generated during the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals or in research activities pertaining thereto or in the production or testing of biological and including categories mentioned in Schedule I, of the BMW rules, 2016.

Who deals with Bio-medical wastes in India?

  • Central Pollution Control Board has been following up with all SPCBs/PCCs to ensure effective management of biomedical waste in States/UTs.

Collection and disposal

  • The collection and disposal is treated and disposed as per the specified methods of disposal prescribed under Schedule I of the Rules.
  • Bio-medical waste generated from the hospitals shall be treated and disposed by Common Bio-medical Waste Treatment and Disposal Facility.
  • In case there is no common facility in the reach of a healthcare facility, then such healthcare facility should install captive treatment and disposal facility.
  • There are 200 authorized Common Bio-medical Waste Treatment and Disposal Facilities (CBWTFs) in 28 States for environmentally safe disposal of biomedical waste.
  • Remaining 7 States namely Goa, Andaman Nicobar, Arunachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim do not have CBWTFs.


As informed by CPCB and as per Bio-medical Waste Management Rules, 2016, Bio-medical waste is required to be segregated in 4 color coded waste categories.

  • Common methods of treatment and disposal of bio-medical waste are by incineration/plasma pyrolysis/deep-burial for Yellow Category waste;
  • Autoclaving/microwaving/chemical disinfection for Red Category waste;
  • Sterilization and shredding, disinfection followed by burial in concrete pit/recycling through foundry/encapsulation for White Category sharps waste; and
  • Washing, disinfection followed by recycling for Blue Category glass waste.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Polycrack Technology


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Polycrack Technology

Mains level : Polycrack Technology and its benefits


Indian Railways has put in place the country’s first Waste to Energy plant in Mancheswar Carriage Repair Workshop which falls under East Coast Railway. It uses a patented technology called POLYCRACK, is first-of-its-kind in Indian Railways and fourth in India.

Polycrack Technology

  • It is world’s first patented heterogeneous catalytic process which converts multiple feed stocks into hydrocarbon liquid fuels, gas, carbon and water.
  • The process is a closed-loop system and does not emit any hazardous pollutants into the atmosphere.


  • Polycrack Plant can be fed with all types of plastic, petroleum sludge, un-segregated MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) with moisture up to 50%, e–waste, automobile fluff, organic waste including bamboo, garden waste etc., and Jatropha fruit and palm bunch.

How it works?

  • The process is a closed-loop system and does not emit any hazardous pollutants into the atmosphere.
  • The combustible, non-condensed gases are re-used for providing energy to the entire system and thus, the only emission comes from the combustion of gaseous fuels.
  • The emissions from the combustion are found to be much less than prescribed environmental norms.
  • This process will produce energy in the form of Light Diesel Oil which is used to light furnaces.

Advantages of Polycrack

Polycrack has the following advantages over the conventional approach of treating solid waste:

  • Pre-segregation of waste is not required to reform the waste. Waste as collected can be directly fed into Polycrack.
  • It has high tolerance to moisture hence drying of waste is not required.
  • Waste is processed and reformed within 24 hours.
  • It is an enclosed unit hence the working environment is dust free.
  • Excellent air quality surrounding the plant.
  • Biological decomposition is not allowed as the Waste is treated as it is received.
  • The foot print of the plant is small hence the area required for installing the plant is less when compared with conventional method of processing.
  • All constituents are converted into valuable energy thereby making it Zero Discharge Process.
  • Gas generated in the process is re-used to provide energy to the system thereby making it self-reliant and also bring down the operating cost.
  • There is no atmospheric emission during the process unlike other conventional methods except for combustion gases which have pollutants less than the prescribed norms the world over.
  • Operates around 450 degrees, making it a low temperature process when compared with other options.
  • Safe and efficient system with built-in safety features enables even an unskilled user to operate the machine with ease.
  • Low capital cost and low operating cost.
  • Fully automated system requires minimum man power.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Zero-Waste Alliance 


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Zero-waste Alliance 

Mains level : Solid waste management in India

  • Kerala’s capital city Thiruvananthapuram was recognised and awarded at the International Zero Waste Conference held in Malaysia in October this year.
  • Apart from T’puram, Chennai is the other Indian city which is considered a Zero Waste city and is part of the International Zero Waste group.

What is Zero Waste Strategy?

  • Zero waste is the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse and recovery of products, packaging and materials without burning, and with no discharges to land, water or air that threaten the environment or human health.
  • This definition was adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance in 2002.
  • It means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.

Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA)

  • It is a group of environmental professionals dedicated to working towards a world without waste through public education and practical application of Zero Waste principles.
  • By disseminating knowledge and providing support to its members ZWIA is promoting the implementation of Zero Waste Principles in various aspects.

T’puram, a pioneer on zero waste

  • The TMC’s waste management plan was not the first of its far-sighted measures to manage waste. It brought in the green protocol for the first time in India to tackle plastic pollution.
  • The protocol was first practiced at an international workshop on zero waste in Kovalam in 2000.
  • Many institutions have adopted this initiative, including the state legislative assembly complex in the city.

How did they do it?

  • Thiruvananthapuram, with a population of approximately 0.9 million, is spread over an area of 214.86 square kilometres and is divided into 100 wards.
  • The TMC introduced segregated collection of waste to ensure maximum efficiency.
  • It formalised and institutionalised source-level composting and decentralised resource recovery as part of city waste management.
  • The entire process of waste management is based on the principle of proximity which ensures the least amount of displacement of waste.
  • TMC also organizes periodical collection drives for specific types of non-recyclable discards. The materials will be sent to the authorized recyclers.
  • Bulk generators or commercial establishments, meanwhile, are required to take responsibility for their own waste. They include hotels, restaurants, commercial establishments, community halls, and institutions.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[pib] Hong Kong International Convention for Safe Recycling of Ships 2009


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hong Kong International Convention for Safe Recycling of Ships 2009

Mains level : Ship recycling industries in India

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for enactment of Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 and accession to the Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009.


  • India is the leader in the global ship recycling industry, with a share of over 30% of the market.
  • As per UNCTAD report on Review of Maritime Transport, 2018, India had demolished 6323 tonnes in 2017, of known ship scrapping across the world.
  • The ship-recycling industry is a labour-intensive sector, but it is susceptible to concerns on environmental safety.

Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019

  • The proposed Bill restricts and prohibits the use or installation of hazardous material, which applies irrespective of whether a ship is meant for recycling or not.
  • For new ships, such restriction or prohibition on use of hazardous material will be immediate.
  • That is, from the date the legislation comes into force, while existing ships shall have a period of five years for compliance. Restriction or prohibition on use of hazardous material would not be applied to warships and non-commercial ships operated by Government.
  • Ships shall be surveyed and certified on the inventory of hazardous material used in ships.
  • Under the Bill, ship recycling facilities are required to be authorized and ships shall be recycled only in such authorized ship recycling facilities.
  • The Bill also provides that ships shall be recycled in accordance with a ship-specific recycling plan. Ships to be recycled in India shall be required to obtain a Ready for Recycling Certificate in accordance with the HKC

Salient features

  • The GoI has decided to enact a Bill, namely Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019, to provide for the regulation of recycling of ships by setting certain international standards and laying down the statutory mechanism for enforcement of such standards.
  • It has also been decided to accede to the Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009.
  • When the Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 comes into force, its provisions will be implemented under the provisions of the Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 and rules and regulations framed there under.

About Hong Kong Convention

  • The Hong Kong International Convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships, or Hong Kong Convention is a multilateral convention adopted in 2009, which has not entered into force.
  • The convention has been designed to try to improve the health and safety of current ship breaking practices.
  • The Hong Kong Convention recognised that ship recycling is the most environmentally sound way to dispose of a ship at the end of its life, as most of the ship’s materials can be reused.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Geochemical Baseline Atlas of India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the atlas

Mains level : Its significance

For the first time, ‘Geochemical Baseline Atlas of India’ developed by CSIR-National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) for use by policymakers to assess environmental damage was released.

Geochemical Baseline Atlas of India

  • The atlas consisting 45 maps of metals, oxides and elements present in top and bottom soils across India.
  • It will serve as a reference against which future generations of the country would be able to assess the chemical compositional changes on Earth’s surface.
  • These maps help in finding out future contamination caused by industries or other bodies which cause pollution.

Part of a Global Map

  • It will be given to International Union of Global Sciences (IUGS), which is preparing global maps.
  • To develop the maps, the globe was divided into 5,000 cells of 160 km by 160 km each. Of it, India has 122 cells.
  • CSIR started this work in 2007 from cell number 1 which is in Kanyakumari. The last cell is in Arunachal Pradesh.


  • Earlier, there was no way to prove if polluters denied causing damage to the environment. Now, the baseline maps atlas helps show evidence of it.
  • With a glance at it, policymakers will get to know regions with high and low concentrations of metal.
  • For instance, tanneries release chromium. By going through the map of chromium, policymakers will get to know regions with a high concentration of it.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[op-ed snap] Use of single-use plastic needs to be minimised, but the larger problem also needs to be attended to


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Single Use plastics


Prime Minister Narendra made an announcement that India would eliminate single-use plastics by 2022. In another statement on October 2, PM announced that single-use plastics (SUPs) will be phased out by 2022.

Single-Use Plastics

  • SUPs refer to plastics that are used just once – in disposable packaging and also in items such as plates, cutlery, straws, etc. 
  • A FICCI study estimates that 43% of India’s plastics are used in packaging and much of it is single-use plastic. 
  • We also have completely unnecessary single-use plastic entering our homes in the form of covers for invitation cards, magazines, bread wrappers, and advertisements.

Further challenge

  • Single-use plastic is part of a massive challenge of management of all kinds of plastic waste. 
  • SUP’s large and growing volume adds enormously to the total plastic waste. 
  • The growing volume is mostly because of rising e-commerce in India with people buying from companies like Amazon and Flipkart that use single-use plastic for disposable packaging. 


  • Plastic was invented by John W Hyatt in 1869. It has been an integral part of our lives and contributed much to the convenience of modern living. 
  • Its significance comes from the flexibility, durability, and lightness of this material. 
  • Plastics are used not only in airplanes, computers, cars, trucks and other vehicles, but also in our everyday-use items such as refrigerators, air-conditioners, furniture, and casings for electric wires, etc.,

Problems with plastic

  • Plastic does not decompose naturally and sticks around in the environment for thousands of years. 
  • Safe disposal of plastic waste is a huge challenge worldwide.
  • A Texas-sized great garbage patch of floating plastics swirling in the Pacific first attracted attention in the 1960s. 
  • A similar or even greater quantity of sunken plastic, especially discarded fishing gear, called ghost nets, blankets our ocean floors. 
  • Both floating and sunken plastics kill riverine and marine life.
  • A study by FICCI points out that fast-growing consumption has brought us to a point where consumption has clearly outstripped India’s current capacity to recycle plastics.

Plastic carry-bags 

  • They pose a special problem. Although they are strong, lightweight and useful — and can be saved, cleaned and reused many times — this is mostly not done because they are available very cheap and are not valued. They become single-use plastics.
  • A compulsory charge by retail stores on carry-bags has proven most effective in reducing their use without a ban. 
  • In Ireland, a minor charge added to every bill saw a 95% reduction in demand for such carry-bags, as most shoppers began bringing in their own reusable grocery bags.
  • Discarded plastic bags are blown by the wind into drains and flood urban areas. They are used as waste-bin liners to dispose of daily food scraps and find their way into the stomachs of roaming livestock because the animals ingest them to get at the food inside.
  • All plastic waste is eventually carried by rain, streams and rivers into the oceans.


  • Close to 20 states in India have imposed a partial or total ban on single-use plastics at one time or another.
  • Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Himachal Pradesh opted for complete bans, while others including Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha have tried partial bans. 
  • The bans have not been successful because of poor state capacity to enforce.
  • In India, the Plastics Waste Management Rules 2016 included a clause in Rule 15 which called for explicit pricing of carry-bags. This required vendors to register and pay an annual fee to the urban local bodies. Lobbying by the producers of plastics ensured that this clause was removed by an amendment in 2018.
  • The Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2016 require creators of such packaging waste to take it back at their cost or pay cities for its management under Extended Manufacturer Responsibility. But there is little compliance.

Other issues to a ban

  • In India, plastic producers have been advocating thicker and thicker micron sizes for carry-bags. 
  • When there is a ban on carry-bags, it leads to the use of non-woven polypropylene (PP) bags. They feel like cloth and are now even being printed to look like cloth: These are more dangerous for the environment as their fine fibers rub off and enter global waters as microplastics.

Way ahead

  • Build awareness of the damage caused by SUPs and develop consumer consciousness to minimise their use. 
  • SUPs can potentially be converted by thermo-mechanical recycling into plastic granules for blending into other plastic products, usually irrigation piping for agriculture. 
  • The collection of post-consumer waste and recycling poses a major challenge. The multi-layer flexible packaging, which is used for chips and other snacks, cannot be made into granules because it contains layers of plastic with different melting points. 
  • India recycles much more than the industrialised countries through an informal network of waste collectors and segregators. 
  • Recycled plastic can be used to strengthen roads. Use of plastics more than doubles or triples road life — it has been approved by the Indian Road Congress and mandated by NHAI for up to 50 km around every city with a population of over 5,00,000. 
  • Replace the use of thermocol with totally biodegradable pith from the shola/sola plant.


We need many more such innovative ideas and a fundamental change in mindsets to minimise the use of single-use plastic.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Plastic Pollution in A&N Islands


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Plastic pollution in A&N Islands

  • The pristine beaches of the Great Nicobar Island, India’s southernmost territory are under threat from plastic.

Foreign litter in India

  • A survey of five beaches in the islands recorded the presence of plastic bottles.Sixty of these were analysed and found to be of ‘non-Indian origin.’
  • About 10 countries including India contributed to the plastic litter in the island. They were Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, India, Myanmar, China and Japan.
  • Major portion of the litter (40.5%) was of Malaysian origin.
  • It was followed by Indonesia (23.9%) and Thailand (16.3%). Other countries contributed a minor portion.
  • The litter of Indian origin only amounted to 2.2%.

Proximity to island

  • The overwhelming contribution from Indonesia and Thailand was likely due to its proximity to the island.
  • The plastic is likely to have made its way to the island because of water currents via the Malacca Strait, which is a major shipping route.
  • The huge quantities of marine debris observed on this island might be due to improper handling of the solid waste from fishing/mariculture activity and ship traffic.

Strain of  domestic tourism

  • However, the researchers also point out that litter of Indian origin on beaches and mangroves of the Andaman Islands is continuously increasing.
  • This is probably due to lack of proper guidelines and inadequate staff to monitor these islands.

About Great Nicobar Island

  • The Great Nicobar Island of Andaman has an area of about 1044 sq. km. According to the 2011 census, has a population of about 8,069.
  • The island is home to one of the most primitive tribes of India — the Shompens.
  • The island includes the Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve (GNBR) comprising of the Galathea National Park and the Campbell Bay National Park.
  • The island harbours a wide spectrum of ecosystems from tropical wet evergreen forests, mountain ranges and coastal plains.
  • The island is also home to giant robber crabs, crab-eating macaques, the rare megapode as well as leatherback turtles.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[op-ed snap] An effective plan to end the use of plastic


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Plastic ban - challenges due to plastic use and way ahead


India is embarking on a “very large campaign” to get rid of single-use plastic. 

Plastic – threats

    • Plastic poses a serious threat to the planet. 
    • This oil-derived material is not bio-degradable. Careless disposal pollutes the environment. 
    • The urban crisis of choked drains and garbage heaps, which can’t be incinerated.
    • Several species at threat of polymer ingestion. 
    • Marine life has been suffering since much plastic waste ends up in the sea and in the bellies of aquatic creatures. 
    • Micro-particles are increasingly being detected in fish, which puts people at risk of contaminant-caused illnesses.

The mission

    • The government clarified that it would spread awareness about the menace of plastic and create plastic-free zones around heritage sites to begin with. 
    • In the absence of sufficient alternatives to plastic, an outright ban would have caused much disruption across the country. 
    • Users of some flexible items such as carry bags can easily switch to slightly more expensive material. Those of hard-plastic products, such as disposable syringes, would have found an overnight switch-over difficult to achieve. 
    • The government, through its Swachhata Hi Seva campaign, plans to acquaint Indians with the perils of plastic and ask people to voluntarily reduce its use. 
    • It intends to ask all states to enforce existing rules against the storage, manufacture, and use of some single-use products, such as polythene bags. 

Other steps needed

    • Efforts should first be directed at waste disposal mechanisms. These remain archaic. 
    • Separation-at-source garbage collection has seen only patchy success in India.
    • Plastic items rarely have separate channels for recycling
    • Moral suasion could change attitudes here.A nudge of some sort such as express trash clearance assured to those who put anything “poly” in marked-out bins. 
    • Final disposal will need well-sealed landfills, inspired loosely by burial crypts for spent nuclear fuel rods. 
    • Institutional and corporate reduction of plastic use, a broad incentive scheme in favour of alternative material could be put in place. 
    • Defray the financial cost of switching to eco-friendly material. 
    • Manufacturers are likely to suffer if the material’s consumption were to drop. They need sufficient time to revise their business plans and move on to other opportunities. 


As demand begins to decline, a timeline could be declared for the elimination of some categories of plastic use. How well the objective is achieved would depend on how well we combine coaxing with coercion to wean the world off plastic.



Single-Use Plastics

Explained: Phasing out single-use plastics- Prospects and Challenges

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Explained: Phasing out single-use plastics- Prospects and Challenges


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Single Use Plastics

Mains level : Phasing out single-use plastics: Prospects and Challenges


  • On 73rd Independence Day, PM appealed to the citizens to make the country free of single-use plastics (SUPs) and to work towards this mission whole heartedly.
  • Earlier this month, at the UNCCD, the PM said recalled that the time has come for the world to say goodbye to single-use plastics.
  • This has not only bought plastics in the national spotlight but has also started debates around the ban being a good proposition or bad.

Single-use plastic

  • As the name suggests, single-use plastics (SUPs) are those that are discarded after one-time use.
  • Besides the ubiquitous plastic bags, SUPs include water and flavoured/aerated drinks bottles, takeaway food containers, disposable cutlery, straws, and stirrers, processed food packets and wrappers, cotton bud sticks, etc.
  • Of these, foamed products such as cutlery, plates, and cups are considered the most lethal to the environment.

 Poor response from states

  • The 2019 CPCB report remarked that states/UTs were not furnishing information regarding Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 in their jurisdiction.
  • This included PW generation records, creating state level advisory body, framing bylaws, marking and labelling of MPLs, plastic manufacturing/recycling units etc.
  • States/UTs were not taking concrete steps to take preventive and regulatory measures envisaged under the rules.

Why are states reluctant?

  • A bigger debate over the SUP ban issue is on the fact that more than a million workers will lose jobs.
  • According to a 2018 estimate, there are more than 3,500 organised recycling units and more than 4,000 unorganised units.
  • Approximately, 7 crore workers are employed in the industry.
  • This is a critical number and there needs to be a clear roadmap on how these workers will be transitioned to any other industry.

What could work to phase out plastics?

I. Baseline and inventory

  • There is a need for a thorough analysis of environmental, social and economic impacts of SUPs.
  • Inventorization studies in order to estimate how much fraction of single use plastics is there in our plastic waste, how much of this fraction comprises packaging waste, cutlery items, carry bags, PET bottles, etc., are to be done.
  • These numbers shall help assess the scale of such waste and look for a clear alternative.
  • There needs to be an initiative at state level to push cities to inventorize their dry waste. Since the composition of our waste has changed drastically with more plastics, it is important that this be done.
  • Only then we can assess the extent of their impact before imposing bans. Such a study has not been done so far and has now become the need of the hour.

II. Clear definition of SUPs

  • For this ban to be successful, we need a clear definition of SUPs. Currently, different definitions are used by governments.
  • Single use simply means products that are used once and then discarded. This includes a huge amount of packaging waste, including water bottles and so a clear definition is critical.
  • Any plastic that is made from polymers of HDPE, LDPE, PET, PS, PP, EPS is single use plastics, according to the United Nations.
  • The definition in Australia is that single-use plastic includes shopping bags, cups, straws and packaging.
  • The IEEP’s and European Commission’s definition says single-use plastics can include any disposable plastic item designed to be used only once.
  • Therefore, specific definitions pertaining to the composition, uses and categories of single-use plastics should be framed.

Classification of singe use plastics

Type of plastic

Usage in percentage

General usage

PS, PSE 6.7% PS: Eyeglasses frames, Plastic cups, egg trays PSE: packaging building insulation
PET 7.4% Bottles for water, soft drink, juices, cleaners
PUR 7.5% Building insulation, pillows and mattresses, insulating foams for fridges
PVC 10% Window frames, profiles, floor and wall covering, pipes, cable insulation, garden hose, inflatable pools
HDPE 12.3% Toys, Milk bottles, Shampoo bottles, pipes, houseware
LDPE, LLDPE 17.5% LDPE: Reusable bags, trays and containers, agricultural film LLDPE: food packaging film
PP 19.3% Food packaging, sweet and snack wrappers, hinged caps, microwave proof container, pipes, automotive parts, bank notes
Others 19.3% Hub caps, optical fibres, eyeglasses lenses, roofing sheets, touch screens, cable coating in telecommunications, medical implants, surgical devices

III. National Action Plan for phasing out SUPs

  • There is a need for a National Action Plan or guidelines that should focus to implement plastic ban in a phase-wise manner in terms of urgency.
  • This means products that have alternatives available should be phased out earlier than those that don’t have alternatives, simultaneously reinforcing R&D funding for different alternatives and eco-friendly products.
  • The phase-wise banning should be developed based on materials, recyclability, availability of alternatives and livelihood security to the informal sector.
  • Keeping this and current post-consumption patterns in mind, a framework indicating range of SUP products needs to be devised to assist the policy makers in ideating, planning and executing the phase-wise SUP ban.

IV. Strengthening waste management systems

  • Imposing a ban on SUPs is only a part and not the whole solution. However, better waste management systems with focus on segregation incentive models can help achieve long-term impacts.
  • If cities segregate waste into three fractions — wet, dry, and domestic hazardous waste — and if municipalities create infrastructure in terms of material recovery facilities or sorting stations, dry waste can be sorted into different fractions.
  • This then has value and a market and will not end up as litter. We need to source segregate.

V. Recycling

  • Establishing and monitoring domestic recycling units in every state and Union territory, incentivising the recyclers in the unorganised sectors should be promoted.
  • There should be training of low-skilled recyclers, setting up effective grievance redressal mechanisms, life cycle and cost analysis of plastic alternatives should be formulated and explored by the legislative bodies.
  • This is to increase the recycling efficiency in the country and implement effective and sustainable solutions at every stage of banning single-use plastics.

VI. Effective EPR implementation

  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy tools and its implementation is still lax in the country.
  • An effective EPR framework, therefore, should be formulated keeping into context the applicability of EPR for certain items like PET, PP or dairy industry.
  • However, EPR implementation for multi-layered plastic (MLP) can still be a constraint considering the vast unorganised industry and present waste management systems.
  • The roadmap can, therefore, let producers implement their EPR obligations utilising the flexibility of brand and geography neutrality.

VII. Discourage small pack MLP sachets

  • Lighter, portable and cost-effective nature of single serve sachets/pouches makes them a major environmental menace as it is one of the major sources of plastic waste and litter, as their collection is economically non-viable.
  • Hence, the production of small packs such as single-use pouches and sachets should be discouraged and a regulation be enforced.
  • Instead Polypropylene packaged items can be brought into the stream to cater to low-income groups and also have a high recyclability.

VIII. Reducing plastic content in MLP

  • Ideal packaging materials were tailored by combining different materials with customised functionality to sufficiently protect sensitive food products and thus obtain extended shelf life.
  • Latest feasible techniques and technologies may be employed to cut down the use of multiple polymers/plastics.
  • More research in this area must be done. Use of single polymer/layer recyclable packaging materials should be encouraged.

Alternatives to single-use plastics

  • Devising feasible alternatives for single-use plastic items and targeting consumers and retailers for better marketing is needed.
  • However, their availability and affordability remain a challenge.
  • Solutions: providing robust infrastructures, strengthening market, innovation and entrepreneurship, subsidy or incentives to consumers at domestic level.
  • Also, a thorough analysis on the alternatives versus their carbon footprint as compared to SUPs needs to be done to push for any kind of alternative.
  • For instance, cotton bags sourced from virgin cotton, kulhad cups baked in kilns have a higher environmental footprint than plastics.
  • Also, options of giving enough time of transition to industry along with tax rebates for alternative industry need to be explored.
  • In the present context, jute and upcycled cloth bags, bamboo and wooden cutlery, leaf-based plates, glass and metal containers etc. are some of the immediate alternatives available.

Way forward

  • Presently, consumer awareness about negative impacts of littering single-use plastics and available reuse systems and waste management options for all these products are still limited.
  • This further need to be strengthened through communication, strategic planning, consumer awareness, media outreach, scientific research, constructive amendments in legislation(s) and sustainability.
  • These mechanisms will not only improve eco-consciousness among citizens but will also empower and encourage widespread actions.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NREP

Mains level : Need for enhancing resource efficiency

  • Against the backdrop of resource depletion in India the MoEFCC has drafted a National Resource Efficiency Policy (NREP).

About the Policy

  • It aims to double the recycling rate of key materials to 50% in the next five years and enable upcycling of waste.
  • The agenda is to develop a circular economy.
  • This can be achieved by two measures—
  1. by recycling the materials, and
  2. by increasing the efficiency of use of these resources.
  • The draft has proposed significant policy instruments like addressing regulatory gaps in implementation of waste laws, landfill taxes, high tipping fees especially for bulk generators of waste, etc.

National Resource Efficiency Authority

  • The draft policy envisions setting up a National Resource Efficiency Authority which will help develop resource efficiency strategies for different sectors and adopt them into a three-year action plan.
  • To begin with, seven key sectors have been identified—automobile, plastic packaging, building and construction sector, electrical and electronic equipment sector, solar photo-voltaic sector, and steel and aluminium sector.

Why need such Policy?

  • Linear production and consumption is leading to a lot of wastage in the entire value chain.
  • Opportunities exist at each and every stage of the product cycle which can be utilized, especially at a time, when the economy is going through a rough patch.

For various sectors

The Automobile Sector

  • The NGT had imposed ban on diesel vehicles more than ten years old in the National Capital Region in view of the rising pollution levels.
  • Following which, more vehicles will end up as end-of-life vehicles.
  • Under the policy, the government plans to set up centres to collect such vehicles and carry out the deregistration process, and shredding centres which would segregate materials for recycling.
  • As many as 20 official dismantlers would be established across major urban centres by 2020.
  • The plan is to ensure 75% recycling rate for vehicles made before 1990, 85% recycling rate for vehicles made between 1990 and 2000, and 90% recycling rate for vehicles made after 2000.

Plastic wastes

  • Another concern is plastic waste, contributing 8% of the total solid waste.
  • The draft policy aims to achieve a 100% recycling and reuse rate polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic by 2025.

Construction materials

  • The draft policy also aims to gradually reducing dependence on virgin materials and enhance re-use of construction and demolition waste.
  • There will be emphasis on developing codes and standards for quality of secondary raw materials to ensure confidence in the product, so that by 2025, at least 30% of total public procurement of construction materials can be from recycled materials.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[oped of the day] Draft policy seeks to plug gaps in implementation of waste laws


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Waste management

Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.


Waste generation is inextricably linked to urbanization and economic development. From the collection of waste to disposal, cities are struggling to implement an affordable and sustainable model. 

Waste generation in India

  • Currently, India generates about 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW). 
  • Waste generation in cities is increasing by 5% each year because of the growing population and consumption. 
  • With poor systems of segregation, recycling and reuse, wastes including hazardous wastes are improperly disposed of, endangering the environment and human health.

Circular Economy

  • CE seeks to restore and regenerate, and also reduce waste by replacing the end-of-life concept. 

Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NREP), 2019

  • Key principles
    • Reduction in primary resource consumption to ‘sustainable’ levels in line with the Sustainable Development Goals
    • creation of higher value with less material through resource-efficient and circular approaches
    • waste minimization
    • material security
    • creation of employment opportunities,
    • business models beneficial to the cause of environment protection and restoration
  • Policy instruments
    • Addressing regulatory gaps in implementation of waste laws
    • Landfill taxes
    • High tipping fees for bulk generators of waste, etc.
  • The National Resource Efficiency Authority (NREA) is mandated to drive the agenda of resource efficiency by designing database templates for material use and waste generated and recycled and landfilled, across various sectors and life cycle stages and across different regions (states/zones).
  • To promote maximum plastic recycling, the draft has proposed 100% recycling and reuse of PET plastic by 2025 and 75% recycling and reuse rate of other plastic packaging materials by 2030.
  • It also mentions a ban on disposal of recyclable waste to landfills by 2025. 
  • Concerning construction and demolition (C&D) waste, it mentions that municipalities in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities should start inventorizing C&D waste data by 2022. 
  • Recycling rate for C&D waste should reach 50% by 2025 and 75% by 2030.


  • Significant work on the circular economy (CE) model has not been done yet.


Reduced waste generation through closing the loop using CE and resource efficiency (RE) approaches will reduce pollution associated with waste disposal and save costs in resolving the trade-offs between growth and environmental sustainability.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Explained: Where does India stand on plastic waste?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Single Use Plastics

Mains level : Plastic waste issue


  • On this Independence Day address, PM called for a movement to eliminate single-use plastic in India, beginning on Gandhi Jayanti (October 2).
  • The move is part of an ambitious drive against Single-Use Plastic (SUP), under the theme “Shramdaan”, for which a detailed plan has been worked out for ministries and departments.
  • The government is reported to be working on a ban on certain plastic items of common use such as carry bags, cutlery and plates under the Environment (Protection) Act, and this may be announced on October 2, well ahead of the earlier deadline of 2022.

Single-use plastic

  • As the name suggests, single-use plastics (SUPs) are those that are discarded after one-time use.
  • Besides the ubiquitous plastic bags, SUPs include water and flavoured/aerated drinks bottles, takeaway food containers, disposable cutlery, straws, and stirrers, processed food packets and wrappers, cotton bud sticks, etc.
  • Of these, foamed products such as cutlery, plates, and cups are considered the most lethal to the environment.

Plastic waste in India

  • Per capita consumption of plastic is projected to go up from 11 kg in 2014-15 to 20 kg by 2022 (FICCI data); about 43% is single-use packaging with poor rates of recovery.
  • In spite of the notification of the Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, 2016, and amendments made two years later, most cities and towns are not prepared to implement its provisions.
  • Even the biggest Municipal Corporations shouldering a staggering waste burden have failed to implement segregation of waste: collecting recyclable plastic, non-recyclable plastic etc.
  • This is a growing crisis amid criticism of under-reporting of the true extent of plastic waste.

Plastic waste management

  • The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 notified by the Centre called for a ban on “non-recyclable and multi-layered” packaging by March 2018, and a ban on carry bags of thickness less than 50 microns.
  • The Rules were amended in 2018, with changes that activists say favoured the plastic industry and allowed manufacturers an escape route. The 2016 Rules did not mention SUPs.
  • On World Environment Day in 2018, India pledged to phase out SUPs by 2022.
  • The PM has called for “a new revolution against plastic”, and some government-controlled bodies such as Air India and the Indian Railways have announced they would stop SUPs.

A failed attempt earlier

  • Recycling reduces the volume of non-recyclables that must be disposed of using methods such as co-processing in cement kilns, plasma pyrolysis or land-filling.
  • Neither is plastic marked with numerical symbols (such as 1 for PET, 4 for Low Density Polyethylene, 5 for Polypropylene and so on) to facilitate recycling using the correct industrial process.

Alternatives to Plastic

  • Although compostable, biodegradable or even edible plastics made from various materials such as sugarcane bagasse, corn starch, and grain flour are promoted as alternatives, these currently have limitations of scale and cost.
  • Some biodegradable packaging materials require specific microorganisms to be broken down, while compostable cups and plates made of polylactic acid, a popular resource derived from biomass such as corn starch, require industrial composters.
  • On the other hand, articles made through a different process involving potato and corn starch have done better in normal conditions, going by the experience in Britain.
  • Seaweed is also emerging as a choice to make edible containers.
  • In India, though, in the absence of robust testing and certification to verify claims made by producers, spurious biodegradable and compostable plastics are entering the marketplace.
  • In January this year, the CPCB said that 12 companies were marketing carry bags and products marked ‘compostable’ without any certification, and asked the respective SPCB to take action on these units.

A Janandolan ahead

  • A ban on single-use plastic items would have to therefore lay down a comprehensive mechanism to certify the materials marketed as alternatives, and the specific process required to biodegrade or compost them.
  • A movement against plastic waste would have to prioritise the reduction of single-use plastic such as multi-layer packaging, bread bags, food wrap, and protective packaging.
  • Consumers often have no choice in the matter.
  • Other parts of the campaign must focus on tested biodegradable and compostable alternatives for plates, cutlery and cups, rigorous segregation of waste and scaled up recycling.

Impact on packaging industry

  • Packaging is projected to grow into a $72.6 billion industry in India by 2020 from about $31 billion in 2015, with a proportionate rise in waste volumes.
  • The pressure on producers to streamline the collection, recycling and processing of all forms of plastic is bound to grow.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[pib] Project REPLAN


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Project REPLAN

Mains level : Measures to curb use of plastic

  • Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) launched a first ever ‘Terracotta Grinder’ in Varanasi.

About the grinder

  • The grinder was designed by KVIC Chairman, and fabricated by a Rajkot-based engineering unit
  • This machine will grind the wasted and broken pottery items for re-using in pottery-making.
  • Earlier the wasted pottery items were grinded in normal khal-musal (mortar and pestle) and its fine powder was mixed with the normal clay.
  • Mixing this powder in stipulated ratio to normal clay makes the resulting pottery items stronger.
  • This Terracotta grinder will make grinding of wasted pottery items faster than the traditional mortar and pestle.
  • It will lessen the cost of production, and will also help in solving the problem of shortage of clays.
  • By mixing 20 percent of this wasted terracotta powder, the potter will make a saving of at least Rs 520.  This will also create more job opportunities in the villages.

Project REPLAN (REducing PLAstic in Nature)

  • KVIC, as part of its commitment to Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, had started manufacturing of plastic-mixed handmade paper under its project REPLAN (REducing PLAstic in Nature).
  • In this project, the waste plastic is collected, cleaned, chopped, beaten and treated for softness.
  • After that, it is mixed with the paper raw material i.e. cotton rags pulp in a ratio of 80 % (pulp) and 20% (plastic waste).
  • The institute has sold over six lakh handmade plastic mixed carry bags since September 2018.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Microplastics Pollution


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Microplastics

Mains level : Reach of plastic pollutants to Polar region

  • Tiny particles of plastic, known as microplastics, have been found in the Arctic region and the Alps, carried by the wind, according to a new study that was widely reported this week.
  • The study called for an urgent assessment of the risk of inhalation of the microplastics.

What are Microplastics?

  • Microplastics are defined as shreds of plastic less than 5 mm in length.
  • Microplastics are either manufactured — for instance, microbeads that are used in cosmetics and beauty products — or they are formed when larger pieces of plastic break down.
  • The small, shiny particles advertised as “cooling crystals” in certain toothpastes qualify as microplastics if the ingredients of the toothpaste mention “polyethylene”.
  • Even so, manufactured microbeads are not a major contributor to microplastic pollution.
  • One of the main contributors to this pollution, instead, is plastic waste, 90% of which is not recycled.
  • Plastic bottles, bags, fishing nets, and food packaging are some examples of the larger pieces that break down into microplastics, eventually finding their way into the soil, water and the air we breathe.

Growing concerns

  • The researchers found huge amounts of them in the Arctic snow; their study claims to be the first that contains data on contamination of snow by microplastics.
  • Several other recent studies have established the presence of microplastics in groundwater in the United States, and in the lakes and rivers of the United Kingdom.
  • A study published in June estimated that the average human ends up consuming at least 50,000 particles of microplastics in food every year.

Action by countries

  • In the recent past, several countries have passed laws to limit the amount of microplastics in the environment.
  • The US passed a law in 2015 to prohibit the manufacture of rinse-off cosmetic products containing plastic microbeads.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

No harmful chemicals in PET bottles, finds CSIR study


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PET

Mains level : Plastic waste issue

  • PET bottles are safe, a comprehensive evaluation by the CSIR-Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore has determined.
  • For years there’s been a swirling debate internationally on whether PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottles, which are the mainstay of plastic bottles, leach harmful chemicals when exposed to high temperatures.

About PET

  • PET is short for polyethylene terephthalate, the chemical name for polyester.
  • PET is a clear, strong, and lightweight plastic that is widely used for packaging foods and beverages, especially convenience-sized soft drinks, juices and water.
  • It is also popular for packaging salad dressings, peanut butter, cooking oils, mouthwash, shampoo, liquid hand soap, window cleaner, even tennis balls.
  • Special grades of PET are used for carry-home food containers and prepared food trays that can be warmed in the oven or microwave.
  • The basic building blocks of PET are ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid, which are combined to form a polymer chain.

Toxins are below detection limits (BDL)

  • The CFRTI analysis, commissioned by an industry body, concluded that antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, mercury, selenium and zinc “were below” their detection limits (BDL) of 0.001 mg/kg.
  • Along with metals, the scientists also measured terephthalic acid, Isophthalic acid, Ethylene Glycol, BPA (bis-phenol A) and phthalates.
  • Bisphenol-A (a synthetic organic compound and used in the manufacture of PET bottles) was below its detection limit of 0.02 mg/kg.
  • BPA is now phased out after research found a link between the presence of BPA and the disruption of hormone regulation, as well as breast cancer.
  • The CFTRI scientists found that the presence of metals, BPA and pthalates were “below detection limit”.

Compliant with global standards

  • The analysis found that no chemcials breached the EU-specified norms.
  • The reports were also below the EU regulation norms of the “specific migration limit”, which is the maximum amount of a substance that can migrate from a food packaging material or food container into food.
  • In most cases the EU standards are similar to the ones specified by the FSSAI, except for BPA for which FSSAI has not specified standards and zinc, where FSSAI permits 25mg/kg as opposed to the EU’s 5 mg/kg.

Safe for packaged water

  • The studies further confirmed that antimony does not leach out of PET bottles.
  • These findings further establish that no endocrine disruption happens from the use of PET bottles.
  • The scientists also studied water stored in PET bottles and checked whether it affected the hormone levels of rats and mice.
  • The evaluation found that the experimental male and female rats exhibited comparable blood hormone levels in both cases.
  • This conclusively proved that PET bottles did not cause any Endocrine Disruption activity if used to package water.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[op-ed snap] picking out plastic


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EPR

Mains level : Plastic waste management


The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has put 52 producers, brand owners and importers, including big online retailers such as Amazon and Flipkart, and companies such as Patanjali Ayurved and Britannia, on notice, for failing to take responsibility for their plastic waste. These and other entities with a large plastic footprint need to respond with alacrity.

Failure of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

  • It is eight years since the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) was incorporated into the Plastic Waste Management Rules, but municipal and pollution control authorities have failed to persuade commercial giants to put in place a system to collect and process the waste.
  • Tighter rules in 2016 and some amendments two years later put the onus on producers and brand owners to come up with an action plan for the retrieval of waste within six months to a year, but that too failed to take off.
  • Mountains of garbage with a heavy plastic load have been growing in suburban landfills, out of sight of city dwellers.
  • Without determined steps, the crisis is certain to worsen.

Retail sector’s Role

  • It should be noted that the retail sector expects e-commerce to grow from about $38.5 billion-equivalent in 2017 to $200 billion by 2026. Given the role played by packaging, the waste management problem is likely to become alarming.
  • There is also a big opportunity here, which the trade, municipal governments and pollution control authorities need to see.


  • The two prongs of the solution are packaging innovation that reduces its use by using alternatives, and upscaling waste segregation, collection and transmission.
  • Recovering materials from garbage should be a high priority, considering that India is the third highest consumer of materials after China and the U.S.; the Economic Survey 2019 estimates that India’s demand for total material will double by 2030 at current rates of growth.
  • Plastics may be less expensive than other inputs in manufacturing, but recycling them into new products extends their life and provides a substitute for virgin material.
  • Keeping them out of the environment reduces clean-up and pollution costs.


  • Unfortunately, in spite of legal requirements, municipal and pollution control authorities fail to see this and mostly pursue business-as-usual waste management methods.
  • Recyclable waste is rendered useless when it gets mixed with other articles. Online retailers have not felt compelled to take back the thousands of polybags, plastic envelopes and air pillows used to cushion articles inside cardboard boxes.
  • This is in contrast to more developed markets where they are trying out labels on packages with clear recycling instructions.
  • These companies can form waste cooperatives in India, employing informal waste-pickers.
  • In such a model, consumers will respond readily if they are incentivised to return segregated plastic waste.
  • Making municipal and pollution control authorities accountable is also equally important.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

G-20 Framework on Marine Plastic Waste  


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : G20

Mains level : Marine Plastic Waste

  • Group of 20 environment ministers agreed to adopt a new implementation framework for actions to tackle the issue of marine plastic waste on a global scale.

About the Framework

  • The new framework is aimed at facilitating further concrete action on marine waste, though on a voluntary basis, after the G20 Hamburg Summit in Germany adopted the “G20 action plan on marine litter” in 2017.
  • Under the new framework, G20 members will promote a comprehensive life-cycle approach to prevent and reduce plastic litter discharge to the oceans through various measures and international cooperation.
  • They will also share best practices, promote innovation and boost scientific monitoring and analytical methodologies.

About G20

G20 – Comprehensive Notes

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Poly-Di-Ketoenamine (PDK): New plastic that could be fully recycled


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PDK, Polymerization

Mains level : Utility of PDK as advanced material

  • The scientists have created a next-generation plastic that can be fully recycled into new materials of any colour, shape, or form, without loss of performance or quality.

Poly-Di-Ketoenamine (PDK)

  • A team of researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Berkeley National Laboratory has designed a recyclable plastic called PDK.
  • The monomers of PDK plastic could be recovered and freed from any compounded additives by placing the material in a highly acidic solution.
  • It helps to break the bonds between the monomers and separate them from chemical additives.
  • The recovered PDK monomers can be remade into polymers, and those recycled polymers can form new plastic materials without inheriting the colour or other features of the original material.
  • They could also upcycle the plastic by adding additional features, such as flexibility.

Why most plastics cannot be recycled?

  • Most plastics are made of polymers, chains of hydrogen and carbon which are chiefly derived from petroleum products like crude oil.
  • Polymers are composed of shorter strands called monomers and the process is called polymerization.
  • To give plastics certain characteristics like toughness, flexibility or color, certain chemicals are added which from strong bonds with the monomers.
  • While many polymers are thermoplastic, meaning they can be melted down and reused, the additives bonded to them can interfere with the process.
  • So when plastics are ground up and mixed together for recycling, all those additives make the final product unpredictable and lower quality.
  • That’s why most recycled plastic is “downcycled” or turned into items like handbags or benches instead of completing the recycling loop.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Basel Convention


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Basel Convention

Mains level : Curbing Plastic Pollution

  • Nations agreed to add plastic to the Basel Convention, a treaty that regulates movement of hazardous materials from one country to another, in order to combat the dangerous effects of plastic pollution around the world.

Amending the Basel Convention

  • Parties to the Basel Convention have reached agreement on a legally-binding, globally-reaching mechanism for managing plastic waste.
  • The Geneva meeting amended the 1989 Basel Convention on the control of hazardous wastes to include plastic waste in a legally-binding framework.
  • The new amendment would empower developing countries to refuse “dumping plastic waste” by others.
  • The resolution means contaminated and most mixes of plastic wastes will require prior consent from receiving countries before they are traded, with the exceptions of mixes of PE, PP and PET.
  • For far too long, developed countries like the U.S. and Canada have been exporting their mixed toxic plastic wastes to developing Asian countries claiming it would be recycled in the receiving country.

What is Basel Convention?

  • The Basel Convention stands for the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.
  • It is an international treaty that was designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries (LDCs).
  • It aims to assist LDCs in environmentally sound management of the hazardous and other wastes they generate.
  • The Convention was opened for signature on 22 March 1989, and entered into force on 5 May 1992.
  • As of October 2018, 186 states and the EU are parties to the Convention. Haiti and the United States have signed the Convention but not ratified it.
  • It does not, however, address the movement of radioactive waste.
  • The Convention is also intended to minimize the amount and toxicity of wastes generated, to ensure their environmentally sound management.

Why such move?

  • Instead, much of this contaminated mixed waste cannot be recycled and is instead dumped or burned, or finds its way into the ocean.
  • Plastic waste pollution has reached “epidemic proportions” with an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic now found in the oceans.
  • Even though the U.S. and a few others have not signed the accord, they cannot ship plastic waste to countries that are on board with the deal.
  • Much of the contaminated mixed waste cannot be recycled and is instead dumped or burned.

Ban on two chemicals           

  • The meeting also undertook to eliminate two toxic chemical groups — Dicofol and Perfluorooctanoic Acid, plus related compounds.
  • The latter has been used in a wide variety of industrial and domestic applications, including non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as carpets, paper and paints.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Kumbh brought Allahabad to verge of an epidemic, says NGT


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kumbh, NGT

Mains level : Solid Waste Management; Prospects and Challenges

  • Both the governments, at the Centre and Uttar Pradesh, claimed to have organised a ‘swachh’ — clean — Kumbh in the winter of 2018-19, but the NGT seems to differ.
  • In fact, the quasi judicial body rang alarm bells about host city Allahabad being on the the verge of an epidemic.

Alarms raised by NGT

  • While predicting a rise in case of acute diarrhoea, enteric fever, viral hepatisis and cholera, the NGT said responsibility needs to be fixed so an epidemic can be prevented.

Why Kumbh left an epidemic behind?

I. Poor solid waste management

  • The green bench flagged poor solid waste management during the months-long religious gathering.
  • The NGT said 60,000 metric tonnes (mt) of solid waste had been collected at nearest SWM Plant which was lying untreated.
  • Of this, 18,000 mt was generated in Kumbh, but the plant was not operational since September 2018.

II. Polluted Groundwater

  • Also, the tribunal pointed out that groundwater too has been polluted.
  • Dirty water from toilets was being collected in kutcha pits.
  • The base of the soak pits had not been lined and the dirty water could percolate underground.

III. Ganga , the ultimate sufferer

  • The NGT found that a large number of toilets were constructed very close to the river.
  • The nearby geotubes had more sewage than it could treat.
  • The geo tube was not working satisfactorily and 50 per cent of the sewage from the drain was trapped and the rest was going into the Ganga.

IV. No lesson learnt from past

  • This is not the first Kumbh to have come under criticism for poor managment.
  • Things were far from perfect during the last Kumbh as well.
  • The CAG of India’s audit report of the event read, that no effective planning for protection of environment and pollution control was made for the Maha Kumbh.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[op-ed snap] India stares at pile of solar e-waste


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Waste management Rules

Mains level : Solar waste is new category of waste that has emerged as a challenge and there are no guidelines to deal with it.


By 2050, India will likely stare at a pile of a new category of electronic waste, namely solar e-waste, says a study made public on Thursday.


  • Currently, India’s e-waste rules have no laws mandating solar cell manufacturers to recycle or dispose waste from this sector.
  • No laws mandating disposal; volume estimated at 1.8 million tonnes by 2050.
  • “India’s PV (photovoltaic) waste volume is estimated to grow to 200,000 tonnes by 2030 and around 1.8 million tonnes by 2050,” said the study by Bridge To India (BTI), an energy consultancy firm.

India’s achievement in solar sector

  • India is among the leading markets for solar cells in the world, buoyed by the government’s commitment to install 100 GW of solar power by 2022.
  • So far, India has installed solar cells for about 28 GW and this is largely from imported solar PV cells.

Solar cell waste

  • Solar cell modules are made by processing sand to make silicon, casting silicon ingots, using wafers to create cells and then assembling them to make modules.
  • India’s domestic manufacturers are largely involved in assembling cells and modules.
  • These modules are 80% glass and aluminium, and non-hazardous.
  • Other materials used, including polymers, metals, metallic compounds and alloys, and are classified as potentially hazardous, says the study.

Handling of solar waste

  • India is poorly positioned to handle PV waste as it doesn’t yet have policy guidelines on the same
  • a lack of a policy framework is coupled with the fact that even basic recycling facilities for laminated glass and e-waste are unavailable.
  • Despite the e-waste regulation being in place for over seven years, only less than 4% of estimated e-waste is recycled in the organised sector as per the latest estimates from the Central Pollution Control Board


While the solar sector continues to grow robustly, there is no clarity on solar waste management in India.


Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Biomedical Waste Management in India: Still a looming concern


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Biomedical waste management in India: prospects and challenges

  • The seemingly endless issue of biomedical waste management (BMWM) in India has necessitated the MoEFCC to amend and enforce the “parent rules” of 2016, yet again.
  • Combating the issues has multifaceted humanitarian and environmental challenges for various communities of the country, and therefore, needs immediate responsiveness for our common world.

BMWM (Amendment) Rules, 2018

  • All bedded healthcare facilities (HCFs) irrespective of their number of beds have to regularly update the BMWM register
  • HCFs which have beds less than 10 shall have to comply with the output discharge standard for liquid waste generated, latest by December 31, 2019
  • Corresponding duties of Ministry of Defence officials as per Schedule III: A report needs to be submitted to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) after the inspection and monitoring of HCFs, Medical Inspection (MI) rooms and AFMS.
  • In March 2018, the BMW amendments delve into extension of dates to phase out — chlorinated plastic bags (excluding blood bags) and gloves etc.

Scenario of bio-medical waste management in India

  • According to the CPCB annual report of 2016, total quantity of BMW generation in the country is approximately 517 tonnes per day (TPD).
  • To grapple with these manifold increase in generation of BMW, 199 common bio-medical waste treatment facilities (CBWTFs) are in operation and 23 are under construction (CPCB, 2017).
  • Safe and effective management of waste is not only a legal necessity but also a social responsibility.

Ineffective management

  • Nevertheless, these amendments are yet to be monitored and enforced on the ground.
  • Despite of having the BMWM legislation since 1998, followed by the changes in the recent past, many regions of the country still have dearth of systematic efforts to mitigate risks associated with such waste.
  • The compliance of rules is still an ongoing process in the country and law in many states is writ large.
  • The legal obligation has been reduced to paper formality only and there is a lack of concern, motivation, awareness and cost factor in proper biomedical waste management.

Way Forward

  1. Managing healthcare waste requires effective knowledge not only among those who produce the healthcare waste but also among those who handles it.
  2. So, to achieve this, HCFs and regulatory authorities have to take stringent measures in order to ensure safe disposal of BMW in the country.
  3. To state a few:
  • training and awareness programme for healthcare personnel needs to be conducted;
  • legal actions against defaulting HCFs and ill-operated CBWTFs is obligatory;
  • self-regulatory mechanism for monitoring and implementation for waste management should be encouraged and
  • well timed sufficient allocation of funds through central funding from National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) should be ensured.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Galapagos Islands


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Galapagos Islands

Mains level: Not Much


  • Tonnes of plastic waste wash up on the shores of the Galapagos Islands where microparticles end up in the stomachs of species found only in the Pacific archipelago 1,000 km west of mainland Ecuador.

Galapagos Islands

  • The Galapagos Islands an archipelago of volcanic islands part of the Republic of Ecuador, distributed on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean surrounding the centre of the Western Hemisphere.
  • The island inspired Charles Darwin’s Theory of evolution and was his field of study.
  • The Islands and their surrounding waters form the Galapagos Province of Ecuador, the Galapagos National Park, and the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
  • UNESCO recognised the islands as a World Heritage Site and as a biosphere reserve.

Menace of Microplastics

  • Sun rays and the ocean’s saltwater break down bottles, bags, lids, containers and fishing nets.
  • The tiny plastic pieces become part of the food chain.
  • Those microparticles, often from waste discarded in big cities from other countries and even continents, are perhaps one of the greatest threats to the iguanas, tortoises, birds and fish of the Galapagos.
  • More than 90 percent of the waste gathered doesn’t come from Galapagos activities, but rather from South America, Central America and even a great deal of waste with Asian branding.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

UN meet dilutes Indian plan to phase out single-use plastics


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.

Reasons cited

  • 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.

Assist this newscard with:

Ministry plugs loophole that allowed plastic waste import

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Ministry plugs loophole that allowed plastic waste import


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Features of the Amendment rules

Mains level: Issues related to plastic waste disposal in India


  • Solid plastic waste has been prohibited from import into the country including in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and by Export Oriented Units (EOU) said the MoEFCC.
  • The change in law was part of the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2019.

Salient features of the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management& Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2019:

  • Solid plastic waste has been prohibited from import into the country including in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and by Export Oriented Units (EOU).
  • Exporters of silk waste have now been given exemption from requiring permission from the Ministry.
  • Electrical and electronic assemblies and components manufactured in and exported from India, if found defective can now be imported back into the country, within a year of export, without obtaining permission from MoEFCC.
  • Industries which do not require consent under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981, are now exempted from requiring authorization also under the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016, provided that hazardous and other wastes generated by such industries are handed over to the authorized actual users, waste collectors or disposal facilities.

Why such move?

  • In spite of having a significant plastic pollution load of its own, and a ban on plastic waste imports, imported PET bottles from abroad for processing SEZ.
  • The influx of PET bottles was quadrupled from 2017 to 2018.
  • Indian firms are importing plastic scrap from China, Italy, Japan and Malawi for recycling.
  • India consumes about 13 million tonnes of plastic and recycles only about 4 million tonnes.
  • To incentivise domestic plastic recycling units, the government had banned the import of plastic waste, particularly PET bottles, in 2015.
  • In 2016, an amendment allowed such imports as long as they were carried out by agencies situated in SEZs.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[op-ed snap] Cities at crossroads: Small town, cleaner future


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

Mains level: This article analyses how big cities can learn waste management from small cities and towns



Small and mid-size cities and towns of India are showing the way on how to manage solid waste by getting communities to segregate waste and keeping the waste streams separate.

The case study of Suryapet

  • The earliest and the best success story was of Suryapet, a city in Telangana, located 136 km east of Hyderabad, with a population of a little over one lakh.
  • A single individual, S A Khadar, the commissioner of Suryapet municipal corporation, demonstrated personal leadership which made a big difference.
  • He managed all of the Suryapet’s wet and dry waste (32 tonnes daily at that time) on a half-acre site within the city, earning a gross income of Rs 1 lakh per month from vermi-composting and recycling.
  • He began by winning the hearts of his sanitary workers by prompt satisfaction of minor demands, such as granting leave and/or reassignment of workplaces.
  • Next, he wooed the residents, one mohalla or street or commercial area at a time, by organising daily meetings on morning rounds from six to nine am before beginning his office work. Residential pockets that gave 100 per cent unmixed waste earned token gifts.
  • The commissioner got banks to fund new tractor-trailers (which can unload waste mechanically) for self-help groups by guaranteeing their monthly repayments to banks from the city payments to their SHGs for waste collection services.
  • Open drain cleaning was done in the afternoons. Soggy silt went directly into a wheelie-bin and then into a dedicated leak-proof collection vehicle which unloaded the silt and the debris for widening the road shoulders of all radial roads.
  • The Suryapet experience clearly shows that citizens can be incentivised to give wet and dry wastes unmixed when they see clear administrative will and primary collection vehicles designed to accept and transport wastes unmixed.

The case study of Karjat

  • Within two days of joining, Kokare commissioner of the municipal council of Karjat, strictly enforced Maharashtra’s ban on plastic carry bags. These are now replaced by sari-cloth bags which cost Rs 6 per bag.
  • Handcart vendors use bags made out of newspapers.
  • What is amazing is how he persuaded Karjat residents, already enjoying doorstep waste collection, to cooperate in giving 36 kinds of waste separately on different days of the week! This is probably a global first.

Secret of success

  • The secret of the success of Kokare and Khadar, is passion and daily personal supervision, both going around the city every morning before office hours to meet, persuade and exhort citizens to cooperate.
  • In Karjat, after initial warnings, doorstep collectors refuse to collect mixed waste and also report the person. The same evening, an official comes and grills the person on where they dumped their uncollected mixed waste.
  • Such intense individual effort is especially required at the start. Once word gets around, cooperation is easier.

Other examples

  • In Namakkal (population of 55,000) in Tamil Nadu, pushcart collection workers have been manually separating mixed waste into wet and dry, daily at the doorstep of each household, rather than attempt behaviour change.
  • Alappuzha in Kerala was recently recognised by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) for its decentralised system of waste management.
  • In these and many more small towns, the secret of success is meticulous micro-planning, committed leadership at the administrative level and receptive and engaged communities. The objective is clear — a litter-free, bin-free and dump-free city.

Lessons for metro cities

  • Big cities scoff at small towns leading the way and claim that their own waste volumes are unmanageable. But even in large metropolitan cities, populations of most wards are smaller than of these towns. Decentralisation and effective use of delegated power at the ward level is crucial if micro-planning and implementation is to work with cooperation from RWAs. Only then can we find a collective solution to the challenges of solid waste management in our larger cities.


Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[op-ed snap]Deodorizing waste


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Increasing pollution due to untreated waste and need of waste management as a policy issue



India’s cities are drowning in waste — but no one is bothered.

Effects of contaminated water

  • The World Bank estimates that more than a fifth of all communicable diseases in India (21%) are caused by contaminated water.
  • It attributes one in ten deaths in India to diseases or infections directly or indirectly transmitted through water.
  • Over 500 children die every day in India due to diarrhoeal diseases.

Nitrogen, a growing pollutant

  • According to a study by the Indian Nitrogen Group,  the amount of reactive nitrogen in a bulk of the water bodies in India is already twice the limit prescribed by WHO.
  • Nitrogen pollution from untreated sewage now outstrips nitrogen pollution from the Indian farmer’s urea addiction.

Clean India’s addition to nitrogen pollution problem

  • Under the mission, in the past four years alone, over nine crore toilets have been constructed.
  • Of these, only 60 lakh are in urban areas, where one assumes they are connected to some sort of sewage system.
  •  A study done by the Centre for Science and Environment in 30 cities in Uttar Pradesh found that only 28% of toilets in these cities were connected to a sewage system.
  • The rest will be generating fecal sludge, sewage and septage which has no place to go.
  • According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), 63% of urban sewage flowing into rivers is untreated.
  • Up to a third of the installed sewage treatment capacity is fully or partly dysfunctional

Sewage management is missing from agenda

  • Of the 99 cities in the ‘Smart Cities’ mission, which are collectively spending ₹2 lakh crore over five years (from 2015), only 2.4% of the money is going to be spent on waste management.
  • AMRUT covers a much larger spread — 500 so-called ‘mission cities’ across the country. Of these, only 217 pitched for a sewage treatment plant as an AMRUT project.

No access to water

  • According to NITI Aayog’s composite water management index report released last year, 75% of households do not have access to drinking water on premises, 70% households lack piped water (potable or otherwise) and as many as 20 cities will effectively use up all available water resources by 2020!


  • Sewage and waste need to come centre stage in our policy debates. Elections may be fought on ‘bijli, Sadak, paani’ (power, roads, water) but no election is fought over naali (drain). Unless that happens, we run the real risk of eventually either choking or being poisoned by our own waste.


Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[op-ed snap] Waste-to-Energy plants that use solid waste as feedstock pose threat to environment


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of Waste to Energy plants.

Mains level: The news-card analyses issues and challenges with Waste to Energy plants in India, in a brief manner.


  • Waste to Energy (WtE) plants in our cities, using inadequately segregated municipal waste as feedstock, are highly dangerous because of the toxic gases and particulates they spew when they burn mixed waste in the process of incineration.

The Okhla WtE Plant Case

  • Residents of Okhla and surrounding areas in Delhi have been protesting that the WtE plant in their vicinity is not complying with the stipulations of National Green Tribunal (NGT).
  • It is not too much for an urban locality with houses, hospitals, schools and shops to want no industrial polluter in their midst.
  • With its location within 30 metres of the residential areas, emissions remain a major issue with the residents.
  • The plant was slapped a fine of Rs 25 lakh in February 2017 by the NGT but many questions about air quality standards in the area remain unanswered, including why the plant spews soot and ash in the neighbourhood.

Latest Protest

  • The authorities are considering the expansion of this WtE plant from 16 MW to 40 MW.
  • The latest protests by the residents at a public hearing were reported in the press only a few days ago.
  • The residents claim that the plant’s original Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) issued to IL&FS bears no resemblance to the plant now in operation.
  • A new EIA has been filed for the proposed expansion, and they are apprehensive about the proposal to add two boilers.

WtE Plants in India: Lazy solution to solid waste management

  • There are five municipal WtE plants operational in India with a total capacity to produce 66.4 MW electricity per day.
  • Of this, the lion’s share — 52 MW per day — is generated in Delhi by its three existing plants.
  • There is also talk of setting up a new WtE plant with a capacity of 25 MW at Tehkhand in South-East Delhi.
  • The bandwagon is rolling on with cities across different states vying for WtE plants as a quick and lazy solution to the complex challenge of solid waste management.

Issues with WtE Plants

  1. WtE plants in India burn mixed waste
  • The presence of chlorinated hydrocarbons like PVC results in the release of dioxins and furans when the waste is burnt at less than 850 degree C.
  • Appropriate filtering mechanisms need to be installed to control such dangerous emissions.
  • Dioxins and furans are known to be carcinogenic and can lead to impairment of immune, endocrine, nervous and reproductive systems.

2. They are extremely difficult and costly to measure, as the experience of Okhla shows.

  • In the past, joint inspections involving the residents have shown that the plant was being operated without the adequate use of activated charcoal to filter out dioxins, furans and mercury from the emissions.

3. Serious pollutants of air and water

  • Even when incineration takes place under optimal conditions, large amounts of flue gases, mercury vapour and lead compounds are released.
  • There is always about 30 per cent residue from incineration in the form of slag (bottom ash) and fly ash (particulate matter), which are also known to be serious pollutants of air and water.

WtE plants are being phased out in the West

  • Even people living in the neighbourhood of the best-maintained plants in the West are said to be prone to higher levels of cancer and other illnesses.
  • That is why WtE plants are being phased out in the West.
  • Unfortunately, while the clamour for WtE plants is growing in India, their operations are neither strictly maintained nor adequately monitored.

4. Inefficient in generating energy

  • WtE plants in India are also inefficient in generating energy.
  • Municipal waste in India has a very high biodegradable (wet) waste content ranging anywhere between 60 and 70 per cent of the total, compared with 30 per cent in the West.
  • This gives our waste a high moisture content and low calorific value.
  • Also, since Indian households have traditionally been recycling their waste such as paper, plastic, cardboard, cloth, rubber, etc, to kabadiwalas, this further lowers the calorific value of our waste.

Challenge of segregation at source

  • India’s Solid Waste Management policy requires that wet and dry wastes should not be mixed so that only non-compostable and non-recyclable wastes with at least 1,500 kcal/kg should reach WtE plants.
  • Such waste comprises only 10 to 15 per cent of the total waste.
  • The challenge of segregation at source is compounded by the municipal governments themselves when they use compacters to reduce the transport cost of the waste.
  • Compacting compresses the waste and makes even gross segregation at the plant site impossible.
  • In the absence of adequate feedstock of non-compostable and non-recyclable waste, it becomes necessary to use auxiliary fuel, adding to the cost of operating the plants.

Waste to energy solutions

  • Private companies (mostly foreign) are keenly hawking “waste to energy solutions” to handle our growing volumes of urban waste.
  • Our urban local bodies, which bear the responsibility for solid waste management in our cities, are easily misguided into adopting these “solutions”.
  • They are themselves reluctant to make an effort at keeping wet and dry wastes, recyclable and non-recyclable wastes, unmixed.
  • They find WtE plants an easy option to legitimise the burning of mixed waste.

Way Forward

  • Municipal authorities should be made aware that WtE technologies are being phased out in the West.
  • They should not be allowed unless the waste offered meets the criterion specified by the SWM Rules 2016.
  • A crucial element of enforcement will be to first ensure that the waste is not mixed at the source of generation and then that the handling of waste is in unmixed streams.
  • Even where outsourcing contracts clearly specify that handling must be in unmixed streams, there should be strict penalties for non-compliance.
  •   WtE plants using municipal solid waste from Indian cities as feedstock pose a serious threat to our health and environment.
  • We must explore low cost options such as composting and bio-methanation.
  • First things first: No mixing of waste at the point of generation.

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Global alliance of companies to eliminate plastic waste launched


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: AEPW

Mains level: Issues related to plastic waste.


  • An alliance of global companies launched a new organisation to help eliminate plastic waste, especially in the ocean.

Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW)

  1. The AEPW comprises of about 30 companies, which pledged over $1 billion to eliminate plastic waste across the world.
  2. The aim is to develop solutions to mitigate plastic pollution and promote a circular economy by utlising used plastics.
  3. The Alliance has been working with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development as a founding strategic partner.
  4. Designed as a non-profit organization, the Alliance includes companies from across North and South America, Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa as well as the Middle East are part of the Alliance.
  5. Member companies include those that make, use, sell, process, collect and recycle plastics, as well as chemical and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies, retailers, converters, and waste management companies, also called the plastics value chain.
  6. From India, Reliance Industries will advance efforts towards a sustainable future.

Focus areas of AEPW

  • Infrastructure development to collect and manage waste and increase recycling
  • Innovation to advance and scale up new technologies that make recycling and recovering plastics easier and create value from post-use plastics
  • Education and engagement of governments, businesses, and communities to mobilize action;
  • Clean-up of concentrated areas of plastic waste in the environment, particularly the major conduits of waste, such as rivers, that carry land-based waste to the ocean.
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