Single-use plastic items to be banned in India from July 1
Single-use plastic ban: Starting July 1, India will impose a blanket ban on single use plastic items. The government has said that the ban on the manufacturing, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of identified single use plastic items that have low utility and high littering potential will be implemented strictly across the country.
The notification to phase out single use plastic (SUP) items by July 1, 2022 in the country was issued in August 2021. The August 12 last year's notification by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change prohibited manufacturing, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of identified SUP commodities, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene from July 1, 2022.
Notably, the government has been working on phasing out SUP items since 2018. The ministry issued 'Standard Guidelines for Single-Use Plastic' on January 21, 2019, to all states, UTs and central ministries for eliminating the use of SUPs. The Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals had set up an expert committee on single-use plastics which submitted its report in September 2019, recommending an immediate ban on identified SUP items which have low utility and high environmental impact.
The government has said that it will set up state and national level control rooms and form special enforcement teams for checking the illegal manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of SUPs. The government has also asked the states and Union Territories to set up border checkpoints to stop the inter-state movement of any banned single use plastic items.
Banned plastic items
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has said that day-to-day usage single use plastic items in multiple categories such as plastic sticks that are used in ear buds, balloons, candy, ice-cream; cutlery items such as plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, trays; packaging/wrapping films such as that used for the sweet box, invitation cards, cigarette packets, and other items such as plastic flags, PVC banners of less than 100 microns and polystyrene for decoration will be banned.
The minimum specified thickness for polythene carry bags of 75 microns is applicable across the country since September 2021. From December this year, the government aims to revise it to 120 microns.
The government claims that the decision is an important step in the fight against pollution. With the ban, the government expects to get rid of items that have low utility, have high littering potential and equally, availability of alternatives.
Violators to face punitive action
According to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, punitive action will be taken against the violators under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
As per the All India Plastic Manufacturers Association (AIPMA) data, around 88,000 units are engaged in manufacturing SUPs in the country. These units employ about 1 million people.
Sandip Chhettri, CEO, TradeIndia, said that preserving the environment is definitely the most critical need of the hour and plastic pollution is a global issue.
"While the ban on single-use plastic is a welcome measure, there is a need to make it constructive and sustainable for all. The plastic industry in India currently has a multitude of large-scale and small-scale units that provide employment to lakhs of people. It is critical to have a clear roadmap for a robust transition of these people to some other industry as well as there should be alternatives to single-use plastic," Sandip said.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India generates around 2.4 lakh tonnes of SUP per annum. The per capita SUP production is 0.18 kg per year.
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