A ban on single-use plastics – Issues that need to be addressed for the effective implementation of the ban
In order to fight the country’s increasingly polluted and littered streets, India has banned single-use plastics – everything from spoons to tobacco packages. The government disregarded the requests of the food, beverage, and consumer goods industries to delay the limitation in order to prevent disruptions when it announced the ban. India, the second most populated nation in the world, has seen a substantial increase in the pollution caused by plastic waste.
The demand for goods that come with single-use plastic items, including straws and throwaway cutlery, has increased as a result of rapid economic expansion. India uses roughly 14 million tonnes of plastic yearly, but there is no organized system in place to manage plastic garbage, which results in a lot of littering. Used plastic items that eventually clog sewers, rivers, and seas and also harm wildlife are very popular. Straws, cutlery, earbuds, packaging films, plastic sticks for balloons, confectionery and ice cream, and cigarette packs are among the products that India has banned, according to a statement issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration. The government has currently exempted plastic bags, which is a comfort for consumers, but it has asked importers and producers to increase the thickness of the bags to encourage reuse. Plastic producers have also voiced their dissatisfaction with the prohibition, claiming that it did not allow them enough time to get ready for the limitation. In addition, there have also been objections from the consumer goods and the food and beverage businesses. Some experts claim that it might be difficult to enforce the ban. The government has made the decision to establish control rooms to monitor any unauthorized distribution, sale, or usage of single-use plastic products.
- What is Plastic?
- Harms of Plastic
- Laws on Plastic Ban
- Implementation of these laws
- Role of government
- Role of citizens
- The 3 R’s
- What should be done for the effective implementation of the ban?
What is Plastic?
An organic compound with high molecular weight is a key component of plastic, which is considered as a material containing this element. Long carbon chain polymers are another definition for it.
Two distinct forms of plastic are:
Polymers that can be heated and bent easily. Linear polymers and a combination of linear and cross-linked polymers are examples of thermoplastics. PVC, nylon, polythene, etc., as examples.
Plastics that cannot be heated back to a soft state after molding. The group of thermosetting plastics includes polymers with high cross-link densities. melamine, bakelite, etc. As an illustration, floor tiles are made of melamine, whereas electrical switches are made of bakelite.
Plastics are a diverse group of semi-synthetic or synthetic materials with polymers as their primary component. Plastic may be molded, extruded, or pressed into solid objects of various shapes throughout manufacture thanks to its plasticity. It enables the material to adapt appropriately and is beneficial for a variety of applications.
This versatility, together with a range of advantageous qualities including being lightweight, strong, and flexible, as well as affordable production techniques, have helped to widen their appeal in today’s culture. Petrochemicals derived from fossil fuels, including natural gas or petroleum, are the primary source of most modern polymers. The most modern methods for making plastic, however, utilize substitutes created from renewable resources like derivatives of corn or cotton.
Harms of Plastic
Plastic is a material that does not biodegrade. It does not dispose of in the ground or the water. It pollutes the air, land, and water for centuries after it enters the ecosystem.
Plastic can release dangerous chemicals into the soil and can take up to 1000 years to decompose. People can absorb the chemical components of plastic, which have detrimental effects on their health.
Anybody’s tissue can absorb the dangerous chemicals used to make plastic, which eventually enters the human food chain. Massive amounts of plastic being disposed of, such as drinking bottles and plastic bags, clogs waterways and contributes to natural disasters. In our cities, it clogs the street drains.
Here are some of the harms of plastic:
- Non-Biodegradable: Plastic bags cannot decompose biologically. The major difficulty is therefore, getting rid of the plastics.
- The decline of the Environment: Due to their negative impact, they are damaging the environment. Today, land pollution is primarily caused by plastic bags. A significant contributor to water contamination is the use of plastic bags. Thus, we can draw the conclusion that these are harming our ecosystem in every manner possible.
- Harmful to marine life and animals: Unaware, ingesting plastic particles alongside their food are animals and aquatic life. According to research, discarded plastic bags are a major cause of untimely animal deaths.
- Human illness’s root causes: Toxic substances are released during the manufacture of plastic bags. The main reason for serious disease is due to these. The contaminated environment is one of the primary factors contributing to the numerous diseases that are currently sweeping through society.
- Obstructed sewage: The biggest cause of blocked drains and sewers, particularly during rainy seasons, is waste plastic bags. This might cause a situation akin to a flood and interfere with people’s daily lives.
Laws on Plastic Ban
Rules for the Management of Plastic Waste (Amendment), 2021
According to the revised regulations, single-use plastics, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, will no longer be produced, imported, stored, distributed, sold, or used as of July 1, 2022. Earbuds with plastic sticks, balloons with plastic sticks, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice cream sticks, and polystyrene for decorations are a few examples of these products.
Plates, cups, glasses, cutlery including forks, spoons, and knives, straws, trays, packaging films wrapped around candy boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns, stirrers are also banned.
At the federal, state, and local levels, the government has issued orders prohibiting the supply of raw materials to businesses that deal in prohibited goods. In order to enable reuse, plastic carry bags must also have a thickness increase from 75 microns to 120 microns starting on December 31, 2022. Polythene bags smaller than 75 microns were previously prohibited by MoEFCC in September 2021; the previous restriction was 50 microns. Pan masala, gutkha, and cigarette packets made of plastic are currently prohibited from being packaged, stored, or sold.
Rules for the Management of Plastic Waste (Amendment), 2022
The following clauses are included in the 2022 rules:
Category 1 includes rigid plastic packages.
Category 2 will comprise carry bags, plastic sachets, and pouches as well as flexible plastic packaging that is either single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic).
Multi-layered plastic packaging that includes at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of another material falls into category 3.
Category 4 includes carry bags made of biodegradable polymers as well as plastic sheets or the like that are used for packing.
Implementation of these laws
In order to limit the usage of new plastic material for packaging, the most recent guidelines now require the reuse of rigid plastic packaging material. Further reducing plastic use and supporting the recycling of plastic packaging waste will be the enforceable requirement of a minimum level of recycling of plastic packaging waste gathered under EPR. The 2022 rules introduce a notable first by allowing the sale and acquisition of excess extended producer responsibility certificates. This will provide a commercial system for the disposal of plastic garbage. By March 31, 2022, the federal government has also suggested that a centralized online portal be established by the Central Pollution Control Board for the registration and submission of yearly returns by producers, importers, brand-owners, and processors of plastic trash. With regard to orders and instructions linked to the deployment of EPR for plastic packaging, it would serve as the single-point data repository. If producers, importers, and brand owners fail to meet their EPR targets, environmental compensation will be assessed based on the polluter pays concept. The goal of this is to safeguard the environment, enhance its quality, and stop, manage, and lessen environmental degradation. Regardless of the motivation, the “polluter pays” principle holds those responsible for environmental pollution accountable for repairing any harm done and restoring the environment to its pre-pollution condition. For the proper implementation of EPR, the MoEFCC will receive recommendations from a committee established by the CPCB and chaired by the CPCB chairman, including changes to the EPR guidelines. The CPCB has been responsible for receiving an annual report from Pollution Control Committees and the SPCBs regarding the EPR portal’s use by manufacturers, importers, brand-owners, and processors of plastic waste.
Role of government
The government needs to take action to regulate single-use plastic products. To enforce the ban, the federal and state governments must take some severe steps. The people should be made aware of the harmful impacts of plastic products by the local authorities and government.
Role of citizens
Although plastic bag use has been outlawed in numerous jurisdictions by the government. However, individuals continue to use these bags. Store owners stop offering plastic bags for a few days after the ban.
It is now necessary for each of us to do our part to ensure the success of this prohibition. Therefore, it is up to us informed members of society to cease using plastic bags. We may assist the government in its campaign in this way.
People can contribute in the following ways, for example:
- Keep track: We must constantly remind ourselves of the negative consequences that plastic bags have on our environment and keep an eye on their use if we are to succeed in this objective. We will eventually get used to not using these bags.
- Look for substitutes: Reusable jute or cotton bags are only two of the numerous environmentally friendly products of plastic bags.
Reuse: Before tossing away the plastic bags we currently have at home, we must use them as many times as possible.
- Raise Awareness: While the government is educating the public about the negative impacts of plastic bags, we can also educate others by talking about it.
The 3 R’s
Our healthy environment is deteriorating day by day as a result of the excessive and careless exploitation of numerous natural resources. By putting the three R’s into practice—Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse—we can protect the environment. The following explains this.
By reducing the actions that contribute to their wastage, we utilise fewer natural resources overall. We can cut down on energy waste by, for instance, turning off superfluous fans and lights. We are using less coal because we use less electricity. By fixing the leaking taps, we can lessen the amount of water that is wasted.
Recycling is gathering used and discarded paper, plastic, glass, and metal goods and sending them to the appropriate industries for use in creating new paper, plastic, glass, or metal products.
Prior to recycling items, we must correctly segregate (separate) our home wastes to prevent recyclable goods from being deposited with other household waste that must be thrown away.
Reusing implies that we are using the same items repeatedly, if at all possible. For instance, we can store ingredients like salt, spices, sugar, tea leaves, lentils, etc. in the plastic jars that we purchase various foods like jams, pickles, etc. Paper envelopes can also be used again after being turned inside out. As opposed to recycling, which uses energy, reuse uses no energy at all. This makes reuse a better procedure than recycling. However, there are very few items that can be reused.
What should be done for the effective implementation of the ban?
The health of the entire ecosystem is actually seriously harmed by our overreliance on single-use plastic. The life cycle is impacted, and the entire atmosphere is devasted. The people must cease using plastic and act like law-abiding citizens, and they must demonstrate a strong intention to do so. Any carelessness or violation should be dealt with severely and strictly by the administrative organisations. The goal won’t be achieved by just issuing a fine. Furthermore, those who follow the law in letter and spirit may receive incentives. In order to recognise the contribution of key individuals, public acknowledgement through social media and mainstream media can prove to be quite helpful. The use of jute items, clay jars or bottles, bamboo stick baskets, and green bags made of banana leaves should all be encouraged.
Some other effective ways are:
Take strict action against violators
For implementation to be successful, officials must rigorously deal with offenders and vigorously start an awareness campaign to encourage consumers to switch to alternative eco-friendly products.
Form special teams to enforce the ban
For proper monitoring, specialized crews and operating rooms should be established. Willful violators should face harsh penalties. They should be penalized appropriately and imprisoned.
Seek cooperation from vendors
Local vendors should maintain cloth bags, paper bags, or jute bags as substitutes to help the government reduce plastic pollution. Notably, most prohibited items can be replaced with paper versions of the same things.
Biodegradable items must be promoted
Replace all plastic household products with bamboo and wooden ones. Another choice is silicone, which can withstand heat and is flexible. Instead of using plastic bags, switch to cloth ones that are simple to use, reusable, and washable.
Even though plastic is posing a serious threat to all of us, this issue is frequently disregarded and underappreciated. This is due to the fact that people frequently utilize small, portable bags without considering their long-term harms. In addition, individuals continue to use bags because they are convenient. However, in order to protect our ecology and the globe, everyone must immediately stop using single – use plastic.
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