[Answered] Discuss the need and Impact of banning single-use plastic in India. What are various government initiatives against menace of plastic in India?

Demand of the question
Introduction. What is single use plastic?
Body. Why we need to ban single-use plastic? It’s impact and Government’s Initiatives against plastic menace.
Conclusion. Way forward.

Single-use plastic is a form of plastic that is disposable, which is only used once and then has to be thrown away or recycled. The single-use plastic items include plastic bags, water bottles, soda bottles, straws, plastic plates, cups, most food packaging and coffee stirrers.

Why we need to ban single-use plastic?

  1. Pollution: One of the biggest threats about plastic bags is that they threaten the environment. Plastic bags pollute the land and water, since they are lightweight, plastic materials can travel long distances by wind and water.
  2. Non-renewable: Only 1-13% of the plastic items are recyclable, the rest ends up either buried in the land or water bodies, eventually reaching the oceans, leading to polluting of water bodies and killing of marine life. With climate and environment becoming a rising global concern, plastic pollution and plastic waste management have become the point of worry.
  3. Energy intensive: Production of plastic material are very energy intensive. They require a lot of water for their production. Thus using plastic bags is not advisable.
  4. Threat to aquatic life: Being non-recyclable, plastic bags end up in the oceans. While they reach, they break up into tiny little pieces and are consumed by wildlife. Thereby leading to health issues or even death. Many animals also get entangled or trapped in plastic bags.
  5. Harmful to human health: Toxic chemicals from plastic bags can damage the blood and tissues. Frequent exposures can lead to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, hormone changes, endocrine disruption and other serious ailments.

Negative Impact of plastic ban:

  1. The Plastic industry in the country employs about 40 lakh people. A ban on the plastics will affect industry, leading to job loss and economic slowdown.
  2. A piece of plastic bag cost no more than 10-15 paise which is much cheaper than a paper bag costing 20-25 paise per piece. Plastic ban would Impact cost of the products and would lead to inflation.

Positive Impact of plastic ban:

  1. It will help in tackling air pollution and water pollution.
  2. It will save Many marine lives.
  3. It will reduce health issues in humans due to pollution.
  4. It will spread nation-wide awareness about harmful effects of single-use plastic.
  5. Plastic ban forces the customer to buy the recyclable plastic bags and reuse of disposable bags. This can also encourage reuse of the bags.

Government’s Initiatives against plastic menace:

  1. Reusables in government offices: Many government offices in various states like Kerala made the switch to ink pens and steel cutlery to ensure articles like plastic water bottles, disposable teacups and plastic carry bags are no longer used across the office premises.
  2. Fishing for plastic waste from water bodies: Kerala’s Suchitwa Mission have been engaged in not just finding fish but also take care of plastic that either gets stuck in the fishing nets or floats in the sea. They have managed to recover 25 tonnes of plastic waste.
  3. Crackdown on plastic usage: Many states like Maharashtra, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka and Punjab have imposed some form of a ban on plastic.
  4. Utilising plastic for road surfacing: Governments are using plastics for road surfacing and many states are considering to implement this pioneering tactic to manage their plastic waste. Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are a few states that have already begun work on these lines.
  5. Up-cycling plastic for better purposes: From construction materials to threads and fabrics for the textile industry, many organisations across India have been up-cycling plastic for more significant purposes. Even the government’s recent proposal to introduce plastic currency notes is a great step in up-cycling plastic waste.
  6. Plastic Waste Management Rules: The Government has notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 which:
  7. Increased minimum thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 to 50 microns and stipulate minimum thickness of 50 micron for plastic sheets also to facilitate collection and recycle of plastic waste.
  8. Expand the jurisdiction of applicability from the municipal area to rural areas, because plastic has reached rural areas also.
  9. Bring in the responsibilities of producers and generators, both in plastic waste management system and to introduce collect back system of plastic waste by the producers/brand owners, as per extended producers responsibility.
  10. Promote use of plastic waste for road construction as per Indian Road Congress guidelines or energy recovery, or waste to oil etc. for gainful utilisation of waste and also address the waste disposal issue.

Though recycling is the best option for plastic, methodology and systemisation for recycling is slow. While the production model of plastic is very huge and uncontrollable, the numbers of recycling plants are very less. Thus a ban on single-use plastic would help. Government should educate the public and trade bodies to achieve the benefits of the ban. Since long term benefits of plastic bag ban use will benefit the economy and also save taxpayer money can lead to plastic bag cleanup.

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