What are Single use Plastics ?
- India has defined single-use plastic as disposable plastics that are commonly used for packaging and include items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled.
- These include items such as carry bags, food packaging, bottles, straws, containers, cups and cutlery.
- According to a fact sheet released by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and environment ministry in 2018, around 43% of manufactured plastics are used for packaging purposes and most are of single-use.
- Single use plastic contaminates soil and water; choke waterways and exacerbate natural disasters. Plastics also block sewage systems and provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes; release toxic chemicals and emissions when burned.
Legal Regulations in India
- In order to address the issue of scientific plastic waste management, the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 were notified in 2011 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) which included plastic waste management.
- The Government has notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, in suppression of the earlier Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011.
Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016
The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 aims to
- Increase minimum thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 to 50 microns and stipulate minimum thickness of 50 micron for plastic sheets to facilitate collection and recycle of plastic waste.
- Expand the jurisdiction of applicability of plastic waste management rules from the municipal area to rural areas.
- To bring in the responsibilities of producers and generators, both in the plastic waste management system and to introduce a collect back system of plastic waste by the producers/brand owners, as per extended producers responsibility.
- To introduce collection of plastic waste management fee through pre-registration of the producers, importers of plastic carry bags/multilayered packaging and vendors selling the same for establishing the waste management system.
- Phasing out of manufacture and use of non- recyclable multilayered plastic.
- To promote use of plastic waste for road construction as per Indian Road Congress guidelines or energy recovery, or waste to oil etc. for gainful utilization of waste and also address the waste disposal issue.
Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021
Last year, the government notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, prohibiting identified single use plastic items by 2022.
- The notification is in line with India’s stand at the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly held in 2019, when the country moved a resolution on addressing single-use plastic products pollution by 2022.
Key Provisions of Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021
- The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of notified single-use plastic, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene commodities shall be prohibited with effect from the 1st July, 2022.
- In order to stop littering due to light weight plastic carry bags, the permitted thickness of plastic carry bags has been increased from 50 microns to 75 microns with effect from 30th September, 2021 and to 120 microns with effect from the 31st December, 2022.
- The plastic packaging waste, which is not covered under the phase out of identified single use plastic items, shall be collected and managed in an environmentally sustainable way through the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) of the Producer, importer and Brand owner (PIBO), as per Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 and EPR has been given legal force through Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.
- The rules constitute a Special Task Force for elimination of single use plastics and effective implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
- A National Level Taskforce had also been constituted for taking coordinated efforts to eliminate identified single use plastic items and effective implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
- The State /UT Governments and concerned Central Ministries/Departments have also been requested to develop a comprehensive action plan for elimination of single use plastics and effective implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, and its implementation in a time bound manner.
- The Government has also been taking measures for awareness generation towards elimination of single use plastics and effective implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. Eg: Awareness Campaign of Single Use Plastic 2021, Essay writing competition, India Plastic Challenge Hackathon 2021.
Why in News?
- Come 5th June 2022 – World Environment Day – States/ UTs and Urban Local Bodies across the country will swing into campaign mode, in a bid to make the country free of single use plastic (SUP), as well as contribute to improving the environment, under the overarching mandate of “Clean and Green”.
- Given the dual mandate of World Environment Day and India’s committed ban of SUP by 30th June 2022, Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has issued a detailed advisory to States and UTs to take up a range of activities to fulfil these mandates.
- These will include large scale cleaning and plogging drives, with special emphasis on plastic waste collection, as well as large scale tree plantation drives, with participation of all citizens – students, voluntary organisations, self-help groups, local NGOs/CSOs, NSS and NCC cadets, RWAs, market associations, corporate entities, etc.