Single-use plastic ban kicks in from today

Single-use plastic ban kicks in from today

After years of planning and preparation, the ban on single-use plastic kicked in on Friday with units engaged in production, distribution, stocking, and sale of such items being closed.

The ban comes into effect even after several manufacturers have raised concerns over the lack of alternatives. The government has, however, cleared that violation of the ban will invite punitive action, including a fine or a jail term or both, detailed under Section 15 of the Environment Protection Act (EPA) and under bylaws of respective municipal corporations, officials in the Union environment ministry said.

"At the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly 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. India has today taken a defining step to curb pollution caused by littered and unmanaged plastic waste by banning single-use plastic," Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav has said.

The minister had earlier said that the government had given enough time to the industry and the general public to prepare for the ban on SUP items and it hopes for everyone's cooperation in implementing it from July 1.

The Central Pollution Control Board has also launched a grievance redressal application to empower citizens to help curb the use of plastic. Officials said plastic used for packaging in the FMCG sector is not banned but will be covered under the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) guidelines.

According to the CPCB, India generates around 2.4 lakh tonnes of SUP per annum. The per capita SUP production is 0.18 kg per year. On August 12 last year, the ministry issued a notification prohibiting the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of identified SUP commodities, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene from July 1, 2022.

STATE GOVTS BEGIN DRIVE

The Haryana government has also banned single-use plastic from today and is taking resolute steps for mitigation of pollution caused by littered single-use plastic, a government official told PTI. To effectively enforce the ban from Friday, national and state-level control rooms will be set up and special enforcement teams will be formed for checking the illegal manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of the banned single-use plastic items.

Meanwhile, in Delhi, hawkers and street vendors have started switching to green alternatives while organizations representing them are holding awareness campaigns at regular intervals. The representatives of the National Hawker Federation (NHF) said they are holding meetings with street vendors and ensuring that they have stopped using items made of single-use plastic (SUP). However, they are concerned the vendors are unable to find many cost-effective alternatives and that is preventing them to go green.

The Delhi government is geared up with its action plan, along with the stakeholders including Environment Department, Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Urban Local Bodies, General Administration Department, and the Education Department, officials said.

WHAT ALL IS BANNED?

While the list of single-use plastic (SUP) items being banned from July 1 is not comprehensive as it excludes multi-layer packaging which is the real menace when it comes to plastic contamination, it has defined SUP commodities as “plastic items intended to be used once for the same purpose before being disposed of or recycled”.

The ban covers items such as plastic carry bags (less than 75 microns in thickness, to be revised to 120 microns in December 2022), earbuds, and plastic crockery items (spoons, plates, glasses), straws, and certain kinds of plastic packaging material.

The new ban identifies 19 SUP items including earbuds, plastic sticks for balloons, flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol), plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays, wrapping or packaging films around sweets boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns, and stirrers that cannot be used.