From July 1, the Indian government is set to ban single-use plastics. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) provided a list of steps to implement the prohibition on single-use plastic products, including the manufacturing, stocking, importation, sale, and distribution of such things.
Plastic bags smaller than 75 microns were already prohibited by the Ministry of Environment as of September 2021, a significant increase from the previous restriction of 50 microns. The ministry will also phase out plastic bags of fewer than 120 microns thickness by the end of 2022.
This article will explore Before we go any further, let’s take a look at
- What are single-use plastics (SUPs) and why are they a growing concern?
- What is the reason for the government’s ban on single-use plastics?
- Which plastic items Will Be Banned From July 1, 2022?
- What is the impact of the single-use plastics ban on industries?
- What are the alternatives to single-use plastics?
What are single-use plastics (SUPs) and why are they a growing concern?
Single-use plastics are plastics intended for one-time use. Also known as disposable plastics and are commonly used in packaging. These include grocery bags, food packaging, bottles, straws, containers, cups, and cutlery. Here’s why they’re a growing concern –
- Single-use plastics that are less than a specific micron thick are challenging to recycle because they slip into the crevices of recycling machinery and are not accepted by recycling facilities.
- Most plastics are not biodegradable. Instead, they slowly break down into smaller fragments known as microplastics. Eventually they wind up in landfills, and even our food.
- Recyclable single-use plastic waste accounts for just 9% of total waste. All that remains is either burnt or thrown away.
In light of this, several nations are beginning to implement legislation to limit the use of single-use plastics.
What was the reason for the government’s ban on single-use plastics?
India is ranked 94 out of 100 countries that produce single-use plastics (the top three being Singapore, Australia, and Oman).
- Single-use plastics are difficult to collect since they are often thrown away. Collecting them takes time, and they are sometimes difficult to recycle due to their small size.
- The packaging uses the most single-use plastic, with 95% falling into this category.
Many of us hear about a ban on single-use plastics, but we don’t know what kinds of plastics fit into this category. Let’s have a look at what they are first.
Which Plastic Items Will Be Banned From July 1, 2022?
Here’s an extensive list of plastic items that will be banned from July 1st.
- Plastic Straws: Because plastic straws are light, they can be carried into streams and oceans by the wind. If they make it into the oceans, marine life is a massive threat. In certain instances, plastic straws have been found wedged in the noses of sea turtles.
- Plastic drink stirrers: The plastic drink stirrers we use frequently are enjoyable to play with sometimes. Once they’ve been utilized, what will happen to them? You may find them in trash cans, on the street, and in the oceans and rivers. That’s how we’re filling up the earth with plastics that can be replaced by alternatives like bamboo stirrers and glass stirrers.
- Balloon sticks: While playing with and displaying balloons is fun; they pose the greatest threat to seabirds. Balloons are dangerous, and the sticks that come with them are, too.
- Plastic cotton buds: Although cotton buds have a single purpose, animals and marine life often ingest the sticks after the cotton dissolves and is consumed.
- Coffee cups and lids: Takeaway plastic cups and lids, which are largely not recycled or composted, end up in landfills, where they are ingested by humans and other animals, as well as marine life.
- Plastic cutlery and containers: It is easy for us to pack meals in plastic containers and carry plastic cutlery while travelling or doing work. Recycling machines have difficulty separating them, and they wind up in landfills, which take years to disintegrate.
- Plastic Cups and Plates: Although foam cups and plastic plates made from polystyrene are easy to carry and light, most recycling services can’t take them due to their shape, so they end up in landfills.
- Cigarette packets: Most of the cigarettes made worldwide every year have filters made of cellulose acetate, a type of plastic that can take ten years or more to break down. About two-thirds of these filters are thrown away carelessly every year.
- Invitation cards and PVC banners: Plastic invitation cards are thrown away after the event and contribute to pollution. PVC banners serve similarly.
What steps can lead to an efficient Single-use Plastic Ban?
- The SUP ban eradicates the generation of disposable plastics; however, to reap its benefits, segregation has to improve, and there must be a behavioural shift among consumers
- Innovations like Deposit Refund System need to be implemented along with regulations to ensure efficiency
- The need for a data-driven approach is essential to ensure optimised waste collection and channelisation
The new restrictions are aligned with the long-term objectives of SUP-free India. However, some SUP categories still require time to figure out the right alternatives. Therefore, brands are requesting an extension on the deadline. With more than 200 brands registering for EPR ahead of the SUP ban, it is evident that EPR will ensure sound management of the plastic products until the end of its life.
People have different opinions about how effective the ban on single-use plastics will be. Researchers, professionals, and environmentalists believe that bans are effective, but only to a certain extent. It won’t help to seize the goods from the retail locations. A step in the right direction was made in this regard when the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) prepared a thorough action plan to eliminate manufacturing, stocking, and selling.
Bangalore has been actively promoting biodegradable packaging of thickness less than 40 microns. The city has significantly benefited from the efforts of its citizens to participate and volunteer in the city. Plastic containers have, of course, returned in the wake of the pandemic.
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