India will ban the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of identified single-use plastic items, which have low utility and high littering potential, all across the country from July 1, 2022.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is all set to enforce this ban. It was India that piloted a resolution at the fourth United Nations Environment Assembly held in 2019. The ban on single-use plastic comes in line with the clarion call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to phase out single-use plastic items by 2022.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, on August 12, 2021. At the fourth United Nations Environment Assembly, India had piloted a resolution on addressing single-use plastic products pollution, recognising the urgent need for the global community to focus on this very important issue. The adoption of this resolution was a significant step.
In the recently concluded fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in March 2022, India engaged constructively with all member states to develop a consensus on the resolution for driving global action on plastic pollution.
The adverse impacts of littered, single-use plastic items plastic on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, including in the marine environments, are globally recognised. Addressing pollution due to single-use plastic items has become an important environmental challenge confronting all countries.
The government has taken resolute steps to mitigation of pollution caused by littered single-use plastic. The list of banned items includes earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (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.
The Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, also prohibit the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of plastic carry bags having a thickness less than 75 microns with effect from September 30, 2021. The same restrictions will apply to plastic bags having thicknesses less than 120 microns from December 31, 2022.
The ministry has also notified the Guidelines on Extended Producers Responsibility on plastic packaging as Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2022, in February this year. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life. The guidelines will provide the framework to strengthen the circular economy of plastic packaging waste, promote the development of new alternatives to plastic packaging and provide the next steps for moving towards sustainable plastic packaging by businesses.
Capacity building workshops are being organised for MSME units to provide the technical assistance for the manufacturing of alternatives to banned single-use plastic items with the involvement of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), State Pollution Control Boards (SPCB), and Pollution Control Committees (PCC) along with the Ministry of Small Micro and Medium Enterprises and Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering (CIPET) and their state centres. Provisions have also been made to support such enterprises in transitioning away from banned single-use plastics.
For effective enforcement of a ban on identified single-use plastic items from July 1, national and state-level control rooms are being set up and special enforcement teams will be formed for checking the illegal manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of banned single use plastic items. States and Union Territories have been asked to set up border checkpoints to stop the inter-state movement of any banned single-use plastic items.
CPCB Grievance Redressal App has been launched to empower citizens to help curb the plastic menace. The government has been taking measures for awareness generation towards the elimination of single-use plastic The awareness campaign has brought together entrepreneurs and start-ups, industry, central, state and local governments, regulatory bodies, experts, citizens organisations, and academic institutions.
The success of the ban will only be possible through effective engagement and concerted actions by all stakeholders and enthusiastic public participation believes the Ministry.