Explained: Why is single-use plastic being banned in India from July 1

What is the News?

The Government of India has announced the ban on the use of ‘single-use plastic’ from July 1, 2022.

What is Single use-plastic?

Single use-plastic refers to plastic items that are used once and discarded. 

Single-use plastic has among the highest shares of plastic manufactured and used — from packaging of items, to bottles, polythene bags, face masks, trash bags, food packaging among others.

How much is Single use-plastic produced globally?

Single-use plastics account for a third of all plastic produced globally, with 98% manufactured from fossil fuels. 

Single-use plastic also accounts for the majority of plastic discarded – 130 million metric tonnes globally in 2019 — all of which is burned, buried in landfills or discarded directly into the environment.

India features in the top 100 countries of single-use plastic waste generation – at rank 94 (the top three being Singapore, Australia and Oman).

Impact on Environment: It has been projected that single-use plastic could account for 5-10% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Which Single-use plastic items have been banned by the Government?

Central Pollution Control Board(CPCB) have announced a ban are earbuds; balloon sticks; candy and ice-cream sticks; cutlery items including plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, trays; sweet boxes; invitation cards; cigarette packs; PVC banners measuring under 100 microns and polystyrene for decoration.

Note: The government had already banned polythene bags under 75 microns in 2021, expanding the limit from the earlier 50 microns. From December, the ban will be extended to polythene bags under 120 microns. 

Read more: Single-use plastic ban: Reading the fine print reveals ominous loopholes
Why has the Government banned these single-use plastic items?

These single use-plastic items have been chosen as they are difficult to collect, especially since most are either small or discarded directly into the environment. It then becomes difficult to collect for recycling, unlike the much larger items.

How will the ban be enforced?

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. 

Penalty: Those found violating the ban can be penalized under the Environment Protection Act 1986 – which allows for imprisonment up to 5 years, or 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 municipal laws on plastic waste, with their own penal codes.

How is the world dealing with Single-use plastic?

Recently, around 124 countries including India have endorsed a resolution at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) titled “End Plastic Pollution: Towards an internationally legally binding instrument”. The resolution has agreed to end plastic pollution and adopt an international, legally binding agreement by 2024. 

Bangladesh became the first country to ban thin plastic bags in 2002. New Zealand became the latest country to ban plastic bags in July 2019. Hence, as of 2019, 68 countries have plastic bag bans with varying degrees of enforcement.

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Why is single-use plastic being banned in India from July 1” published in Indian Express on 21st June 2022.

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