Fighting Plastic Pollution: Changing Rules for the Disposal of Plastic Waste

Serious implementation of new plastic waste regulations can address the waste problem

The Plastic Waste Disposal Change Rules announced by the Center on Aug. 12 recognize the severity of pollution caused by everyday plastic items, especially those that are no longer useful after a few minutes or hours. Under the new regulations, the manufacture, sale and use of some single-use plastic, polystyrene and expanded polystyrene items, such as earphones, plates, cups, glasses, cutlery, wrapping and packaging films, are banned from the next July 1 year, while others how carrier bags must be at least 75 micrometers thick from September 30, 2021 and 120 micrometers thick from December 31 of next year, compared to the current 50 micrometers. The decisions follow the recommendations of a group of experts from the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals two years ago. In 2018, India received global praise for claiming on World Environment Day that it would eliminate all single-use plastic by 2022, an issue Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emphasized more than once. However, there is a lack of political coherence to achieve the goal. The Central Pollution Control Board has reported that 22 states have announced bans on single-use plastic in the past, but this has had little impact on the waste crisis that suffocates wetlands and waterways and is transported into the oceans to turn into microplastics transform.

With around 34 lakh tons produced in 2019-20, India has an incredible annual volume of plastic waste, of which only around 60% is recycled. A recent study of the world’s top 100 polymer manufacturers culminating in plastic waste also found that six of them are based in India. It is therefore not surprising that despite the harrowing problem, politicians stepped on eggshells. The international perspective is changing, however, and support for a UN plastics treaty is growing; The majority of the G7 countries also support the cleansing of the seas through a charter in the interests of human well-being and environmental integrity. India’s policies on environmental regulation are contradicting itself, high in intent but weak in results, and plastic waste is no different. State governments have not been forced to replace municipal contracts that pay companies to transport mixed waste with terms that require segregation and accounting of materials. Significant amounts of plastic waste cannot be recycled due to a lack of segregation, resulting in incineration, while mixing newer types of compostable plastic will confuse the problem. Incomplete regulation has resulted in plastic being transported across national borders. After the center issues a broad ban, further pollution must stop. Microplastics are already in the food chain and governments must act responsibly to stop the scourge.

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