India will ban single-use plastics, but experts say more needs to be done

On August 27, 2021 in Sector 27, Noida, India, a cyclist used a plastic sheet to protect himself from the rain.

Sunil Ghosh | Hindustan Times Getty Images

India will ban most single-use plastics by next year as part of its efforts to reduce pollution কিন্তু but experts say the move is just the first step in reducing environmental impact.

Central Government of India The country announced the ban in August this year following a 2019 resolution to tackle plastic pollution. The ban on most single-use plastics will take effect on July 1, 2022.

Enforcing the ban to take effect, environmental activists told CNBC. Important structural issues such as control of the use of plastic alternatives, improvement of recycling and waste segregation management also need to be addressed in New Delhi, they said.

Single-use plastics refer to disposable items such as grocery bags, food packaging, bottles, and straw that are used once before disposing of them, or sometimes recyclable.

Swati Singh Sambial, an independent waste management expert based in New Delhi, told CNBC, “We need to strengthen our systems in the field to ensure their compliance, to ensure that this notification is available throughout the industry and among various stakeholders.”

Why plastic?

Since plastics are cheap, lightweight, and easy to produce, this has led to a production increase in the last century, and according to the United Nations, this trend is expected to continue for decades to come.

But countries are struggling to manage the amount of plastic waste they are now generating.

About 0% of plastic waste is collected in India – meaning the remaining 0% or 10.37 tonnes is obsolete, according to Anup Srivastava, director of the Campaign Against Plastic Pollution, a non-profit organization working to fight plastic pollution. In India.

Independent waste pickers usually collect plastic waste from homes or landfills and sell it to recycling centers or plastic manufacturers for a small fee.

However, many plastics used in India have low economic value and are not collected for recycling, according to Sunil Pandey, director of environment and waste management at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi.

Instead, they became a common source of air and water pollution, he told CNBC.

Banning plastic is not enough

Countries including India are taking steps to reduce the use of plastics by promoting the use of biodegradable alternatives that are relatively less harmful to the environment.

For example, food vendors, restaurant chains and some local businesses have started adopting biodegradable cutters and cloth or paper bags..

However, there are currently “no guidelines for plastic alternatives,” Sambial said.

This could be a problem if the plastic ban is enforced.

A machine picks up garbage in a garbage dump at Gazipur landfill where the city’s daily waste has been dumped for the past 355 years. The machine divides the waste into three parts, the first is stone and heavy concrete material, the second is plastic, polythene and the third is fertilizer and soil.

Pradeep Gaur | SOPA Pictures | Light Rocket | Getty Images

Sambial said clear rules are needed to promote alternative options, which are expected to become commonplace in the future.

There are no recycling guidelines in the new rules.

Although about 0% of India’s plastic waste is recycled, experts worry that much of it is due to “downcycling”. It refers to a process where high-quality plastics recycle low-quality new plastics যেমন such as plastic bottles turned into polyester for clothing.

“Downcycling shortens the lifespan of plastics. At its normal speed, plastics can be recycled seven to eight times before going to a burning plant …,” said Terry to Pandey.

In the Indian state of Maharashtra, people are seen carrying bags of other items, mostly cotton for their daily routine and for shopping in Pune, India on June 24, 2018.

Rahul Raut | Hindustan Times Getty Images

Dealing with waste segregation is also essential.

When common waste and biodegradable cutlery are disposed of together, it defeats the purpose of alternative use of plastics, according to Sambial.

The time has come to vigorously implement segregation of household waste sources, ”said Srivastava of the Foundation for Campaign Against Plastic Pollution, adding that waste management laws that exist, but have not been closely followed.

The way forward

Environmentalists generally agree that sanctions alone are not enough and need to be supported by other initiatives and government regulations.

The amount of plastic that is collected and recycled needs to be improved. Pandey said it regulates manufacturers and asks them to clearly identify the type of plastic used in a product, so it can be recycled appropriately.

A female rag picker collects plastic bottles and other plastic items in a boat off the banks of the Brahmaputra River in Guwahati, Assam, India on Monday, October 2, 201.

David Talukder | Nurfoto | Getty Images

In addition to improving recycling, investing in research and development for alternatives should also be a priority.

Pandey explained that India is a large, price sensitive market where plastic alternatives can be produced in large quantities and sold at affordable prices.

Several Indian states have in the past introduced various restrictions on plastic bags and cutlery, but most of them have not been strictly enforced.

Nevertheless, the latest ban is a major step towards India’s fight against land, sea and air pollution – and is consistent with its broader environmental program, according to experts.

In March, India said it was on track to meet its Paris Agreement on climate change targets, adding that it had voluntarily pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions intensity from 35% to 35% by 2030.

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