A Plastic Charter
Researcher Meghna Shenoy highlights the issues with plastic waste management in India
Steps taken to control plastic waste:
- Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016
Calls for a ban on plastic bags below a 50-micron thickness
Phasing out (within 2 years) of manufacture and sale of non-recyclable multi-layered plastic (example: chips packets)
Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR) – Responsibility of collection of used plastics and multilayered plastics entrusted upon producers, importers and brand owners
- More than 20 states have announced a ban on plastic bags
- Bengaluru has announced a complete ban on manufacture, supply, sale and use of thermocols and plastic bags irrespective of size. (Exception: plastic for export, packaging of forest products, milk packets and use in hospitals)
- Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016: calls for separation of waste (into dry and wet) at the source itself
- A CPCB Report highlights banning has not been effective. Lack of citizen awareness and poor implementation of rules are primary reasons.
- Economic benefit from the recycling of plastic not reaped. This is because plastic waste is not properly separated at the source. Recyclability of plastic decreases when mixed with organic or sanitary matter
According to CPCB report, Indian generates 16 lakh tonnes of plastic waste annually. India can earn a revenue of Rs. 5600 crore annually by selling this waste at the global average rate of 50cent/kg
- The issue with EPR: Indian companies do not have a plan for waste collection system to be done through own distribution channel or local bodies. The reason cited is complex nature of plastic waste: ubiquitous and not possible for the concerned company to collect its packages only.
- Citizen awareness
- Mandatory waste segregation
- Effective implementation of rules; collection of fines
- Companies to be made accountable for their social and environmental responsibilities
- Collective implementation of EPR- Zones can be demarcated and companies together manage wastes in their designated zones. This is also economical as it reduces collection, transportation and recycling costs.
Example: In Switzerland, a similar strategy was adopted to recycle thermocol used in insulating buildings
- Innovative means to recycle and reap an economic benefit.
Example: A Canadian company has plastic collection centres, where waste can be exchanged for many things (e.g. for medical insurance, cooking fuel)
- Investment in recycling infrastructures
- Reduction and gradually phasing out plastic consumption