NEW DELHI: Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for an end to the use of single-use plastics, the Indian Railways has decided to end its usage on its premises, including trains, starting October 2.
In the first phase of the project, the railway ministry has asked the authorities to speed up the installation of plastic water bottle crushing machines.
The railways is currently installing around 1,800 machines at 360 major stations across the country.
The ministry has also asked the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Development Corporation (IRCTC) to add the return of plastic bottles in the Extended Producer Responsibility category.
Extended Producer Responsibility is a policy initiative under which producers are given responsibility for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products. The railways’ move comes a day after Parliament banned single-use plastics on its premises.
The ministry has asked general managers of all zonal railways and production units to encourage their vendors to avoid usage of single-use plastics. “Railway employees were asked to reduce, reuse and refuse plastic products and to use reusable bags to reduce plastic usage,” an official said.
According to an official railway communication, the national transporter has been identified as a waste generator and is mandated to follow plastic waste management guidelines.
The steps taken to reduce the use plastic are in accordance with these guidelines and are likely to result in the reduction of generation of plastic waste and its eco-friendly disposal.
The announcement has brought cheer in the environment expert community.
“This is a good move and if implemented properly, it could result in the drastic reduction of plastic usage. The footfall of Indian Railways is very high. If all of them are discouraged from using plastics, the results would be very heartening,” a researcher from the Central of Science and Environment said.
On August 15, PM Narendra Modi had said, “Can we free India from single-use plastic? ...Let a significant step be taken on October 2.”