Enviornment Prelims cum Mains

States’ claim on fighting plastic only strong on paper

The News

  • The latest report, as of July 2016 of annual performance of all States on the steps taken to reign in plastic use has been released by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

 

About the report

  • According to the Centre’s Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, 2016, all States have to annually apprise the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the steps taken to reign in plastic use, whether a ban is in force, and the strength and performance of a recycler and waste-processing network.

 

Highlights of the report

  • It notes that only 24 States and Union Territories have complied with the directions of Centre’s Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, 2016.
  • While Maharashtra may be gearing up for a stringent ban on plastic, experience from across the country suggests that States’ claims on reigning in plastic are stronger on paper than on the ground.
  • Most States qualify it by saying that the ban is imposed in specific towns or cities or that it is focused on particular categories of plastic.
  • The law requires that all plastic waste recyclers register themselves but there were around 312 unregistered plastic manufacturing/recycling units in different states.
  • Most of the States/UTs have not set-up proper monitoring system for use of carry bags as per the specified guidelines.
  • Those States/UTs, who have imposed complete ban on use and sale of plastic carry bags, the plastic bags are stocked, sold and used indiscriminately.
  • Besides, substandard carry bags (<50 micron) are used widely in other States/UTs, violating PWM Rules, 2016.
  • Around 43% of manufactured plastics are used for packaging, most of it “single-use” plastic but so far, not a single one of the 24 States that report their plastic waste management performance have plans in place to tackle single use plastics.
  • Kerala and Sikkim are the States with the most creditable plastic waste management policies.
  • Sikkim has a system of buying back plastic from consumers.

 

 

Need of Plastic waste management

  • Plastic has multiple uses and the physical and chemical properties lead to commercial success.
  • However, the indiscriminate disposal of plastic has become a major threat to the environment.
  • In particular, the plastic carry bags are the biggest contributors of littered waste and every year, millions of plastic bags end up in to the environment vis-a-vis soil, water bodies, water courses, etc and it takes an average of one thousand years to decompose completely.
  • India generates an estimated 32 million metric tonnes of packaging waste each year, of which plastic waste constitutes 16%, but only 60% of the collected plastic waste is recycled.
  • Therefore, to address the issue of scientific plastic waste management, the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 were notified in 2011, which included plastic waste management.
  • The Government has notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, in suppression of the earlier Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011.

 

Aim of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016

  • Increase minimum thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 to 50 microns and stipulate minimum thickness of 50 micron for plastic sheets also to facilitate collection and recycle of plastic waste.
  • Expand the jurisdiction of applicability from the municipal area to rural areas, because plastic has reached rural areas also.
  • To bring in the responsibilities of producers and generators, both in plastic waste management system and to introduce collect back system of plastic waste by the producers/brand owners, as per extended producer’s responsibility.
  • To introduce collection of plastic waste management fee through pre-registration of the producers.
  • To promote use of plastic waste for road construction as per Indian Road Congress guidelines or energy recovery, or waste to oil etc. for gainful utilization of waste.

 

Challenges

  • An eco-friendly product, which is a complete substitute of the plastic in all uses, has not been found till date.
  • In the absence of a suitable alternative, it is impractical and undesirable to impose a blanket ban on the use of plastic all over the country.
  • The real challenge is to improve plastic waste management systems.
  • Also, thechallenges are enormous in manpower requirements and enforcement of the Plastic Waste Management Rules.

 

Way forward

  • Use bags made of cloth or other environment friendly material; opt for sturdy glass or aluminum.
  • Segregate plastic waste at household level.
  • Introduce stricter waste management policy to ensure effective recycling.
  • Involve charging for paper and plastic single-use bags, while giving out reusable recycled-plastic bags to those who need them, especially to low-income communities.
  • Changing our lifestyle could help a lot. For example- Wean yourself off disposable plastics, stop buying packed water, boycott micro beads, support a bag tax or ban and bring your own bag while shopping, etc.
  • Put pressure on manufacturers to recycle the waste, considering the manufacturer’s responsibility.

 

About Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), a statutory organisation, was constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
  • Further, CPCB was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
  • It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • The Functionsof the CPCB, as spelt out in the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, are
    • To promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution, and
    • To improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.

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