Single-Use Plastics Ban: The Government of India (GoI) has announced the Single use plastic (SUP) ban from July 1, 2022.
- A gazetted notification was issued in 2021 by the Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) announcing the plastic ban.
- The manufacturing, importation, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of a number of single-use plastic items including the polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities will be prohibited beginning on July 1, 2022, according to the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.
- The novel amendment is in line with PM Narendra Modi’s clarion call to phase out single-use plastic by 2022.
- It was in June 2018 that PM Narendra Modi had announced to eliminate all single-use plastic items from the country by 2022.
- Now the ministry has defined a list of items that will be banned from July 1, 2022.
Single Use Plastic ban Items List:
- The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have announced a ban on – earbuds; cutlery items including plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, balloon sticks; candy and ice-cream sticks;trays; sweet boxes; invitation cards; cigarette packs; PVC banners measuring under 100 microns; and polystyrene for decoration.
- This ban will not be applicable to commodities made of compostable plastic.
- The Ministry, in September 2021, had already banned the polythene bags under 75 microns expanding the limit from the earlier 50 microns.
- Permitted thicknesses of the plastic bags have been increased to 75 microns, from 50 microns, starting from September 30, 2021 and to 120 microns from December 31, 2022.
- As per the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, there is also a complete ban on sachets using plastic material for storing, packing, or selling Gutkha, tobacco, and pan masala.
Why particular items?
- As per the Ministry officials, the choice for the first set of single-use plastic items for the ban was based on the difficulty of collection and therefore recycling.
- The Ministry official further explained that the adversary isn't plastic per se, but rather plastic in the environment.
- Plastic that is left in the environment for a long time and does not decompose becomes microplastics, which are very dangerous since they infiltrate our food supplies first before making their way into our bodies.
- The specific objects that have been selected to be banned are bacause they are difficult to gather, especially considering that the majority are either little or thrown away into the environment, such ice cream sticks.
How will the ban be enforced?
- The single use plastic ban will be monitored by the CPCB from the Centre and by the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) that will report to the Centre regularly.
- Directions to keep an eye on single use plastic ban have also been issued at the national, state, and local levels to not to supply the raw materials to industries engaged in the banned items.
- SPCBs and Pollution Control Committees will modify or revoke consent to operate issued under the Air/Water Act to industries engaged in single-use plastic items.
- Those violating single use plastic ban can be penalized under the Environment Protection Act 1986- which allows for imprisonment up to 5 years, a penalty up to Rs. 1 lakh, or both.
- Violators can also be asked to pay Environmental Damage Compensation by the SPCB.
- In addition, there are also municipal laws on plastic waste, with their own penal codes.
India is committed to taking action towards mitigating pollution caused by littered Single-Use Plastics.
What are Single-use Plastics?
- Single-use Plastics are also known as disposable plastics.
- They are plastic items that are used once and discarded. For E.g., plastics used in the packaging of items, bottles (detergents, shampoo, cosmetics), coffee cups, cling film, polythene bags, face masks, trash bags, food packaging, etc.
- Plastic has superseded other materials in the packaging sector because it is so practical and affordable.
- It takes hundreds of years to disintegrate.
- India ranks 94 in the top 100 countries for a single-use plastic waste generation as 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated every year, out of which 43% is single-use plastic.
How are other countries tackling single-use plastic?
- In 2022, 124 countries, parties to the United Nations Environment Assembly, including India, signed a resolution to draw up an agreement that will in the future make it legally binding for the signatories to address the full life of plastics from production to disposal, to end plastic pollution.
- EU bans certain single-use plastics for which alternatives are available.
- Bangladesh became the first country to ban thin plastic bags in 2002.
- China issued a ban on plastic bags in 2020 with a phased implementation.
Note: In the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly held in 2019, India piloted a resolution on addressing single-use plastic product pollution, recognizing the urgent need for the global community to focus on this very important issue. The adoption of this resolution at UNEA 4 was thus a very significant step.