Doing away with single use plastics; phase out efforts kick off on July 1

Phasing out efforts will bring in a ban on manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of identified single use plastics

Come July 1 this year, the phasing out of single use plastic will begin across India. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, which notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, on August 12 last year, will take forward the efforts towards phasing out single use plastic.

Considered as a defining step in India’s efforts towards curbing pollution caused by littered and unmanaged plastic waste, the phasing out of single use plastic will see to it that manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of identified single use plastic items will fetch a ban.  Single use plastics have been found as having low utility and high littering potential, and these aspects have led to the new move.

India piloted a resolution on addressing single-use plastic pollution

The Ministry has said that the adverse impacts of littered single use plastic items plastic on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, including in marine environment are globally recognized. Addressing pollution due to single use plastic items has become an important environmental challenge confronting all countries. The 4th United Nations Environment Assembly organised in 2019 had witnessed India piloting a resolution on addressing single-use plastic products pollution. This came about after recognizing the urgent need for the global community to focus on this very important issue.

The adoption of this resolution at UNEA 4 was a significant step, the ministry has said. In the recently concluded 5th session of United Nations Environment Assembly in March 2022, India engaged constructively with all member states to develop consensus on the resolution for driving global action on plastic pollution.

The Union Government has already taken resolute steps for mitigation of pollution caused by littered single use plastics, said a ministry statement. The list of banned items includes ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice- cream sticks, thermocol for decoration, plastic plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers.

Keeping plastic pollution at bay

It has been notified that the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, also prohibit manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of plastic carry bags having thickness less than seventy-five microns with effect from September 30, 2021, and having thickness less than thickness of one hundred and twenty microns with effect from the December 31, 2022.

Further, the guidelines on Extended Producers Responsibility on plastic packaging as Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2022 have also been on February 16, 2022. Extended Producer Responsibility is the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life.

The guidelines provide a framework to strengthen circular economy of plastic packaging waste, promote development of new alternatives to plastic packaging and provide next steps for moving towards sustainable plastic packaging by businesses.

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