Plastic Waste Management

June 13, 2018
1 year

What is the issue?

There is a need for coordinating and systematising the efforts for reducing the use of and the ban on plastic.

What is the need?

  • India generates an estimated 16 lakh tonnes of plastic waste annually.
  • Every piece of plastic ever disposed of is damaging the earth.
  • Plastic persists in the environment for generations.
  • A fraction of the plastic disposed of is recycled.
  • But most of it eventually ends up in the ocean.
  • It stays in the earth, floating in the ocean or in dump sites outside city limits.
  • It may be broken down into microparticles and in the food chain.
  • Plastic waste, mixed with organic and sanitary matter, reduces its recyclability drastically.
  • The best way to reduce plastic pollution is to reduce and phase out its consumption.  

What are the measures taken?

  • India’s Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 specified some regulations.
  • Ban- It called for a ban on plastic bags below 50 micron thickness.
  • It also called for phasing out, within 2 years, of the manufacture and sale of non-recyclable, multi-layered plastic.
  • Following this, more than 20 Indian States have announced a ban on plastic bags.
  • Bengaluru announced a complete ban on the manufacture, supply, sale and use of thermocol and plastic items.
  • This was irrespective of thickness, and included carry bags, banners, buntings, flex, flags, plates, clips, spoons, etc.
  • The exceptions are plastic for export, packaging material for use in forestry, milk packets and hospitals.
  • There are stiff fines that cover manufacturing and disposal.
  • However, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report highlighted that this ban was barely effective.
  • Companies - The responsibility for collection of used plastic and multi-layered plastic sachets lies with producers, importers and brand owners.
  • The onus of disposal and recycling of products and materials is with producers, rather than on taxpayers and governments.
  • Companies should have already submitted plans, in 2016, for waste collection systems.
  • This is based on extended producer responsibility (EPR).
  • It could be done either through their own distribution channels or with the local body concerned.
  • However, none of this has happened at any perceivable scale.
  • Companies say that plastic waste is too complex or pretend to be completely unaware of these rules.

How to address this?

  • Citizens need to be made aware of these rules for better implementation.
  • Governments need to work with citizens to collect fines in case of violations.
  • Mandatory segregation and recycling of plastic waste must be implemented before it is eventually phased out.
  • Companies - Companies need to be held accountable in terms of their environmental and social responsibilities.
  • Several companies produce the same type of packaging.
  • So, instead of each collecting and recycling only its own packaging, companies can collectively implement EPR.
  • Geographically dividing a region into zones and handling the waste generated could be an option.
  • This also reduces collection, transportation and recycling costs.
  • Segregation - In order to realise the potential for recycling, waste must first be segregated at source.
  • This includes separation of dry (plastic, paper, metal, glass) and wet (kitchen and garden) waste at source.
  • Research - There should be research on waste generation quantities and trends.
  • It should also contribute to find innovative alternatives to plastic.
  • There is also a need for strategies to deal with the plastic that has already been disposed of.


Source: The Hindu

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