Go beyond supply curbs to squeeze plastic waste

News: India’s Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is set to prohibit the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution and sale of single-use items w.e.f. 1 July, 2022.

What are the problems with plastic?

The plastic waste disposal has led to large-scale invasion in the natural environment. The entire ecosystems are at threat of being choked by the plastic materials that refuse to blend back into nature. For example, marine species are being killed by microplastics.

As per the studies of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), there is a plastic output of 400 million tonnes per year. About 12% of it was burnt and only 9% recycled.

India is among the top three generators of plastic waste, along with China and the US.

India’s informal sector is very big. Therefore, it registers a patchy record on compliance.

What makes plastic so important?

The plastic is very cheap and affordable. It has succeeded because there is an economy of scale in its production.

What should be done?

There should be emphasis on recycling because at present it is difficult to fully phase out the plastic as, there is an absence of substitute. In addition, the government has been organizing events like a “hackathon” to solve the problem of substitution.

The curb on supply should go hand-in-hand with demand compression. Otherwise, it may adversely affect outcomes.

There is a need for a broad attitudinal shift to play a major role. This can be done through campaigns.

Globally, the UNEP has launched the “Plastic is forever” initiative. It indicates, the plastic does not decompose.

Source: The post is based on the article “Go beyond supply curbs to squeeze plastic waste” published in the Live Mint on 28th June 2022.

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