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

News-CRUX-10     1st March 2024        
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Context: On June 5, 2018, to mark the World Environment Day, Prime Minister of India  announced that India would phase out single-use plastics by 2022. 

Single-Use Plastic

  • About: It pertains to single-use plastic items that are utilized once and then disposed of, such as packaging materials, bottles (for shampoo, detergents, cosmetics), polyethylene bags, face masks, coffee cups, cling film, garbage bags, food packaging, and more.

The Impact of Single-Use Plastics

  • Global Plastic Production and Waste: Single-use plastics constitute a significant portion of global plastic production, with a third of all plastics produced worldwide attributed to single-use items.

o98% of single-use plastics are manufactured from fossil fuels, exacerbating environmental concerns.

  • Environmental Consequences: The majority of plastic waste, totalling 130 million metric tonnes globally in 2019, ends up being incinerated, buried in landfills, or discarded directly into the environment.
  • Projections for Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Current production trends indicate that single-use plastics could contribute to 5-10% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, exacerbating climate change.
  • India's Contribution to Plastic Waste: India ranks among the top 100 countries in single-use plastic waste generation, with an annual domestic production of 11.8 million metric tonnes.

Items Banned and Regulatory Measures

  • Banned Items: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has announced a ban on various single-use plastic items, including earbuds, candy sticks, cutlery, sweet boxes, and PVC banners.
  • Compliance and Enforcement: Manufacturers are required to transition to thicker polythene bags for compliance, necessitating machinery upgrades.

oThe Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, also enforce a complete ban on sachets for storing gutkha, tobacco, and pan masala.

Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021

  • Scope of Ban: The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of identified single-use plastics will be prohibited starting from July 1, 2022.
  • Exemption for Compostable Plastics: The ban excludes commodities made of compostable plastic, allowing their continued use.
  • Plastic Bag Thickness Regulations: The permitted thickness of plastic bags will be increased to 75 microns from September 30, 2021, and to 120 microns from December 31, 2022.