New Delhi: In a move to save environment from the menace of plastic pollution, the Centre has issued guidelines asking states to ban the use of ‘single-use plastic’ from July 1, 2022. Single-use plastic refers to items that are used only once and are discarded after their immediate use. Single-use plastic constitutes the highest share of plastic manufactured and used — from packaging of items, to bottles, polythene bags, face masks, coffee cups, trash bags, food packaging etc. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) states that around the world, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, while up to five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed for single-use purposes – to be used just once and then thrown away.
In a bid to tackle the growing crisis of waste generated from single-use-plastic, the Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change had issued the notification last year in August announcing a ban on single-use plastic beginning July 2022. The ministry along with Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) now has come out with detailed guidelines on what will be banned from the market starting July 1 and the penalty associated with it. The notification said, “The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of single-use plastic, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities like cutlery items including plates, cups, glasses to name a few shall be prohibited with effect from the July 1, 2022.’’
List Of Items That Will Be Banned From July 1, 2022
According to the notification following items will be banned:
– Balloon sticks
– Cigarette packs
– Cutlery items including plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, trays – Earbuds
– Sweet boxes
– Candy and ice cream sticks
– Invitation cards
– Polystyrene for decoration
– PVC banners measuring under 100 microns
Plastic Ban: What Will Change And How Will The Ban Be Enforced From July 1, 2022?
The CPCB and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) have issued the notification asking manufacturers, suppliers and consumers of the single-use plastic items to scrap the use of these products and phase out the use of single-use-plastic items thereby switching to more greener and sustainable alternatives. Directions have been issued at national, state and local levels, for example, it has been directed to all the petrochemical industries to not supply raw materials to industries engaged in the banned items. Local authorities too have been instructed to issue new commercial licenses with the condition that single-use plastic items will not be sold on their premises, and functioning commercial licenses will be cancelled if they are found to be retailing these items.
According to the guidelines effective from July 1, the notification said that people found to be flouting the ban can be fined under the Environment Protection Act 1986, which permits jail of up to five years, or a penalty of up to Rs 1 lakh, or both.
The 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.
To ensure the effective enforcement of the ban, Environment, Forests and Climate Change Minister, Bhupender Yadav said that the centre will be setting up control rooms at national and state levels. These control rooms will be supervised by the Central Pollution Control Board and special enforcement teams. Along with this, these special enforcement teams will also keep a check on illegal manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of the 12 banned single-use plastic items. States and Union Territories have also been asked to set up border checkpoints to stop inter-state movement of any banned single-use plastic item.
On-Ground How Prepared Are The Industries For The Ban?
Frooti and Appy maker Parle Agro’s CEO Schauna Chauhan while talking to PTI said government should look at extending the deadline by six months and said,
It is critical to extend the deadline for developing local manufacturing capacities.
She also said that even though the company has started importing paper straws for now, but it’s an unsustainable option and the “economics just does not match up for a Rs 10 product”.
Ms Chauhan also said that 80% of the integrated straws are recycled, and countries like China and Thailand have allowed their use. She also mentions that it is not clear what would happen to the current stocks if the ban is enforced on July 1.
Dairy giant Amul talking with PTI also urged the government to delay the ban by one year saying the move will have a “negative impact” on farmers and milk consumption.
Citing global capacity constraints and logistical drawbacks, Parle Agro also warned that that the industry might have to close factory operations if the deadline is not extended. The company said that there is a global shortage of paper straws, only China, Indonesia and some European countries make paper straws and India comes low on their priority list. The company also said that those who are trying to import machines to make paper straws locally, it is a one-year wait.
On the other hand, the All India Plastic Manufacturers Association (AIPMA) has warned that this move could leave about 88,000 units bankrupt. Speaking to the news agency AFP, Jayesh Khimji Rambhia, co-chairman of the environment committee of AIPMA said,
Based on government data, about 88,000 units are engaged in the manufacturing of single-use plastic in the country. These units employ about 1 million people and contribute to exports worth Rs 25,000 crore. These 19 products are being used by various industries and while their replacements are there in the market, the companies are going to incur huge costs which will be ultimately passed on to the consumer.
How Informed Are The People And Local Vendors About The Plastic Ban?
Team Banega Swasth India also spoke with local vendors and people about the plastic ban taking place from July 1.
A small fast food vendor from Sector 50, Noida said,
I have been hearing about plastic bans since many years now. Initially it was on plastic bags – but you still find these being used by us small vendors. Why because there is no suitable cost-effective alternative for the same.
A Dosa Van vendor from the same market added,
Now, the ban is extended on other items including plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, trays. I have been selling dosa, uttapam, idlli in this market for the last 30 years. I am using these single-use-plastic cutlery items because they are cheap. Now if they go away from the market – how will I continue to sell these products? I cannot afford greener alternatives as they are costly. Unless we have some viable solutions for the same at the same cost as these items, I don’t think these bans will be effective.
On the other hand, we also asked consumers about the plastic ban and this is what they said:
A 25-year-old MBA student Apoorva from Amity University said,
There is no communication or awareness drive that has been conducted in our college by the municipality or in the area where I live, hence I am not aware on how this ban will take place. Simply by sending guidelines to companies will not make this ban effective. Authorities should have one concrete plan. I am still using these items and I can still see these items floating around in the market, so I am not sure, what is happening on ground.
Why Banning Single-Use Plastic Is Important?
UN Environment Programme states that since the 1970s, the rate of plastic production has grown faster than that of any other material. It adds that if historic growth trends continue, global production of primary plastic is forecasted to reach 1,100 million tonnes by 2050. It says that approximately 36 per cent of all plastics produced are used in packaging, including single-use plastic products for food and beverage containers, approximately 85 per cent of which ends up in landfills or as unregulated waste. Additionally, some 98 per cent of single-use plastic products are produced from fossil fuel. The level of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, use and disposal of conventional fossil fuel-based plastics is forecasted to grow to 19 per cent of the global carbon budget by 2040.
Environment ministry adds that plastic waste poses a big threat to the environment as it remains in the environment for long duration of time and does not decay, eventually turning into microplastics, which first enters our food sources and then the human body. According to Plastic Soup Foundation, an organisation that was founded in 2011 with the goal to make everyone familiar with the phenomenon of plastic soup and to stop it at its source, states that plastic has already entered our food chain. It also adds that animals carry microplastics in their bodies, when they are themselves eaten, those microplastics are also ingested. This process is called ‘trophic transfer’ of microplastics. Since one animal eats another, microplastics can move through the food chain.
Moreover, plastic neither decomposes nor can be burned as it releases noxious fumes and hazardous gases during the process. Thus, storing plastic items remains the only feasible solution besides recycling. The official data by the Environment Ministry adds that over 34 lakh tonnes of plastic waste was generated in 2019-20 up from 30.59 lakh tonnes in 2018-19 in India.
Keeping the statistics in mind, the government has taken the step of banning such plastic items this will also help the government to trim its plastic waste generation but it all depends on how effectively the ban will be implemented.
Talking about the ban in one of her recent blogs, Sunita Narain, Director General of Centre for Science and Environment says,
The current ban on single-use plastics is too limited. According to the latest report of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the ban on carry bags have been implemented in as many as 25 states and Union Territories in India. But we know that the enforcement is inadequate. The current list of banned items is not comprehensive, the list should have included multi-layered packaging.
Nalini Shekar, Co-founder and Executive Director of Hasiru Dala – an organization that seeks to enhance the lives of waste-pickers and bettering waste collection in Bengaluru adds,
The state of Karnataka announced a ban on using all plastics below the thickness of 40 microns back in 2016. I think, what worked in our favour is the citizen participation. Here people take their steel containers to pack their takeaways or eat at restaurants. Citizens are aware of the plastic menace. I think, we should aim for behavioural change communication in other states as well.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) states that according to recent estimations, roughly 100,000 marine mammals are killed every year as a result of eating plastic. It also adds that scientists have found plastic fibers, fragments, and micro-beads in both marine and freshwater fish, wild-caught and farmed. And adds of the 114 species known to have plastic in their stomachs, we end up eating more than half of them. UNEP also adds that species such as plankton, bivalves, fish and whales regularly consume microplastics as they look just like their food. As a result, they suffer from clogged digestive tracts, loss of appetite and changes in feeding behaviour, which later affect their growth and reproductive capability.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.
With Inputs from Agencies