Single-Use Plastic Banning - UPSC Current Affairs

Single-Use Plastic Banning

Here is our today’s edition of the Current Affairs Dialog box, wherein we will discuss Single-Use Plastic Banning. Navigate through the article to understand the topic in detail and enhance your UPSC CSE Preparation Online.

For Prelims: Single-use Plastic, Buy Back Scheme

For Mains: Reasons for banning Single use Plastic, International Initiatives

Context

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has decided to ban the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of identified single-use plastic items, which have low utility and high littering potential from July 1, 2022.

About Single-Use Plastic

  • Single-use plastic (SUP) items are those items that are discarded just after their single use. They are not recyclable.
  • It has the highest share of plastic manufactured and used, accounting for a third of all plastic produced globally.
  • 98% of single-use plastics (SUP) are manufactured from fossil fuels.
  • The single-use plastic items that are difficult to collect are banned – 
    • Earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns, stirrers, etc.
    • Polythene bag – Bags under 75 microns are already banned in September 2021 but the limit will be extended to polythene bags under 120 microns in December. 
    • Sachets – Sachets in which plastic material is used for storing, packing, or selling gutkha, tobacco, and pan masala are completely banned according to the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.

Also Read: 4 New Corals Were Recorded in Indian Waters

Reasons for Banning

  • India ranks at 94th position in producing single-use plastic (SUP).
  • The below-mentioned data shows the gravity of the situation in India –
    • 11.8 million metric tonnes of single-use plastic are produced annually.
    • 2.9 million metric tonnes (MMT) are imported every year.
    • 5.6 MMT of waste generated and 4 kg of per capita generation annually.
  • It would cause around 5-10% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  • The discarded single-use plastics are mostly burned, buried in landfills, or discarded directly into the Earth. All this leads to –
    • The improper disposal of single-use plastics that harms animals and sea life.
    • Plastic turns into microplastics when it does not decay & remains in the environment for long periods of time, it then first enters our food sources and then the human body causing deadly diseases.
    • It also causes blockage or waterlogging and creates unhygienic conditions.
    • The littering creates unhygienic conditions, as it acts as a breeding ground for insects and mosquitoes.
    • It also affects the chemical property of water and degrades the soil quality as well as fertility.

Enforcement of Banning

  • Violation of the ban can be penalized for imprisonment up to 5 years, or a penalty up to Rs 1 lakh, or both, under the Environment Protection Act 1986.
  • Environmental Damage Compensation needs to be paid by violators as per SPCB.
  • It is directed to all petrochemical industries to not supply raw materials to industries engaged in the banned items at national, state, and local levels.

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Buy-Back Scheme

  • Himachal Pradesh’s government has proposed to buy back single-use plastic items from students of schools and colleges.
  • The novel scheme is to encourage a habit among the students to bring & deposit single-use plastic items from their homes to school.
  • The students will be paid ₹75 for a kg of single-use plastic items they deposit.
  • Under this, the Himachal Pradesh Council for Science, Technology, and Environment (HIMCOSTE) is implementing 3,000 Eco-clubs in schools and 100 Eco-clubs in colleges across the State. 
  • Waste will be handed over to the Public Works Department to use in building roads with plastic-bitumen that are durable and long-lasting.

Initiatives to curb Single-Use Plastic

  • In the United Nations Environment Assembly, 124 countries (including India) signed a resolution to address the full life of plastics from production to disposal and to end plastic pollution.
  • India has implemented the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 to curb the menace of plastic pollution.
  • Bangladesh was the first country to ban thin plastic bags in 2002. 
  • The first plastic-free country is Costa Rica as it eliminated plastic bags, bottles, cutlery, straws, and coffee stirrers as of 2021.
  • In the United States, eight states beginning with California in 2014 banned Single-use plastic.
  • New Zealand and China issued a ban on plastic bags in 2019 and 2020.
  • European Union (EU) took directive bans on certain single-use plastics On July 2, 2021.

Way Forward

  • Traditional Indian eco-friendly lifestyle can provide various alternatives to single-use plastics such as Leaf Pattal Plates made up of large leaves. 
  • To bring change, it’s crucial to create awareness about the ill effects of plastic, especially at local levels.
  • The usage of plastic can be reduced by encouraging the use of biodegradable or other metals like steel, copper, etc.
  • Strict actions on usage as well as disposal of plastic, need to be implemented at different levels.
  • Social media platforms can be used to motivate & educate people.

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