NEW DELHI: Over 34 lakh tonnes of plastic waste was generated in the financial year 2019-2020, an increase of more than 10 lakh tonnes compared to 2017-18, the Ministry of Environment informed Rajya Sabha on Monday.
Responding to a question raised in the Upper House of Parliament on the policy to phase out single-use plastic and annual plastic waste generation, Union Minister of State for Environment Ashwini Kumar Choubey said in the year 2019-20, India generated an annual waste of 34,69,780 tonnes of plastic waste while in 2018-19 it was 33,60,043 tonnes and in 2017-18 it was 23.83.469 tonnes.
He said that a multi-pronged strategy has been adopted to phase out identified single-use plastic items in the country, which comprises awareness generation and behavioural change, regulatory regime for phasing out of plastic items having low utility and high littering potential, engagement with stakeholders, and strengthening of institutional mechanism for collection, segregation, recycling and environmentally sustainable end of life disposal of plastic waste, as envisaged in Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
Already, the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, prohibit the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carrying bags and plastic sheets less than fifty microns in thickness in the country, the minister said.
"There is a complete ban on sachets using plastic material used for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala. Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had also issued a draft notification in the Gazette of India on March 11, 2021 for amending Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, inter alia prohibiting the use of identified single-use plastic items by 2022, for public consultation," Choubey said in his written response.
Replying to the query on steps taken to reduce the use of identified single-use plastic, the minister said that the states and union territories have been requested to constitute a Special Task Force under the Chairpersonship of Chief Secretary/Administrator for the elimination of single-use plastics and effective implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016."
Already, 13 States/UTs have constituted the Special Task Force till date. A National Level Taskforce has also been constituted by the Ministry for taking coordinated efforts to eliminate identified single-use plastic items and effective implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
"The State /UT Governments and concerned Central Ministries/Departments have also been requested for the development of a comprehensive action plan for the elimination of single-use plastics and effective implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules (PWM), 2016, and its implementation in a time-bound manner," he told Parliament.
According to the ministry, directions under Section 5 of Environment (Protection) Act have been issued to all States/UTs for setting up an institutional mechanism for strengthening enforcement of PWM Rules.
Guidelines for assessment of Environmental Compensation for violation of PWM Rules 2016 have also been issued, it said, adding that the Ministry has also issued "Standard Guidelines for Single-Use Plastic" in January 2019 to all States/UTs and Ministries.
"A two-month-long Awareness Campaign of Single-Use Plastic 2021 has been organized. The Ministry has also organized a pan India essay writing competition on the theme for spreading awareness amongst school students in the country.
To encourage innovation in the development of alternatives to identified single-use plastic items and digital solutions to plastic waste management, the India Plastic Challenge, Hackathon 2021, has been organized for students of Higher Educational Institutions and start-ups recognized under Startup India Initiative," the minister said.