NEW DELHI: With PM Narendra Modi calling for the launch of a movement against single-use plastic (SUP) from October 2, the Centre is in a race against time to arrive at a definition of SUPs while plastic manufacturers are clueless on what lies ahead for them.
Ever since the announcement was made on August 15, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has held a series of meeting with industry bodies, manufacturer associations, experts, state authorities and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) among others for getting their views to make the country free from SUP.
A CPCB official, who is part of the exercise, said that the final definition would talk about the category of items that would be immediately banned like plastic bags, disposable cups, plates, cutlery, plastic water pouches and PET bottles below 200 ml.
“We have given our suggestions to the ministry before the final draft is made public ahead of the October 2 deadline. However, there is a lot of confusion among stakeholders as we did not have much time to have elaborate discussions,” the official said.
Earlier this year, a committee was formulated by the Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers to define SUPs and prepare a roadmap for its elimination but nothing concrete came out in four meetings it held before the Prime Minister made the SUP-free plan of his government.
Over 50 per cent of SUP waste generated globally comes from the multi-layer packaging industry, which has spoke of a lack of immediate alternatives to replace such items. The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 fixes Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) on the industry to collect and recycle the waste plastic.
“All companies dealing in SUP packaging were asked to submit EPR plans within six months. Around 52 major manufactures were issued notices for non-compliance in April, and many have submitted their plans. However, there are many stakeholders who have sought clarity and are yet to make their EPR submissions,” said an environment ministry official.
The United Nations defines SUPs as products that are commonly used for plastic packaging and include items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled.
Plastic waste a headache for India
Though India’s per capita annual consumption of plastic at 11 kg is among the lowest in the world, the country generates 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day. The global average of per capita annual consumption is 28 kg. Worse, as of now, our policymakers have no estimate on how much of plastic waster is recycled. In such circumstances, the need for reducing dependence on plastics becomes priority.