PLASTIC POLLUTION (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     14th November 2023        

Context: Recently, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released an interim report revealing that a staggering 21 million tonnes (MT) of plastics leaked into the environment globally in 2022.

Key Points of Report

  • The report went on to suggest that the largest costs (as a share of GDP) of ambitious global action are projected for fast-growing countries with less advanced management systems.
  • The document raised concerns that despite increasing urgency to lower plastic pollution, current policies to stem plastic flows have proven to be insufficient.

Plastic Pollution

  • Plastic Waste: According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), out of the 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic produced from 1950 to 2017, approximately 7 billion tonnes became waste, either in landfills or discarded.
  • Marine Plastic Pollution: Annually, over 14 million metric tonnes of plastic enter aquatic ecosystems, causing significant damage to marine environments and biodiversity.
  • Climate Change Impact: The association between plastics and greenhouse gas emissions is alarming. If current trends persist, these emissions are projected to contribute 15% of the total allowable emissions by 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5°C.


  • Characteristic: Plastic encompasses primarily of polymers. 
  • Material Source and Composition: chemicals based on fossil fuels, such as natural gas or petroleum.

International commitment: In the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly held in 2019, India had piloted a resolution on addressing single-use plastic products pollution, recognizing the urgent need for the global community to focus on this very important issue. 

Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021 and 2022:

  • 2021 rule: Phase out single use plastic items from 12 August 2021.

o It prohibit manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of plastic carry bags having thickness less than seventy five microns with effect from 30th September, 2021, and having thickness less than thickness of one hundred and twenty microns with effect from the 31st December, 2022.

  • 2022 rules: It notified the Guidelines on Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) on plastic packaging.
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