Last week, the government constituted Divisional, District and ULB Level Plastic Waste Management Cells and District Level Task Force for elimination of Single Use Plastic (SUP) in Jammu and Kashmir .
Their terms of reference include effectively implementing the Action Plan on elimination of single use plastics and the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 in Jammu & Kashmir as well as to comply with and implement the decisions taken from time to time by the Special Task Force constituted for the purpose.
The District Level Special Task Force, being headed by Additional Deputy Commissioner, has been tasked with the implementation monitoring of the J&K level Comprehensive Action Plan for elimination of SUP in the respective District.
Rightly also, the task force has been tasked with the job to mobilize and build strong public movement for elimination of SUP by ensuring wider public participation including educational institutions etc.
Besides it is to encourage and promote manufacture and usage of Eco-friendly biodegradable substitutes for SUP and enforce the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
The various measures come on the close heels of the Union environment notifying the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules (2021) that prohibits the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of some single-use goods made with plastic, polystyrene, and expanded polystyrene, such as plates, cups, glasses, cutlery, wrapping, and packing films. The rules take effect from July 1 next year.
The carry bags must be at least 75 microns thick from September 30, 2021, and 120 microns from December 31 next year, compared to 50 microns at present.
The rules so notified acknowledge the gravity of pollution caused by plastic articles of everyday use, particularly those that have utility just for a few minutes or hours.
The new rules have been made in consonance with the recommendations made by an expert group constituted by the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals two years ago.
A National Level Taskforce has also been constituted by the Ministry for taking coordinated efforts to eliminate identified single use plastic items and effective implementation of the Rules.
Large amounts of plastic waste cannot be recycled because of lack of segregation which actually compounds the problem. The concerned authorities need to ensure segregation of the waste. Now that the Centre has adopted a broad ban, further pollution must end. Microplastic is already found in the food chain, and the administration must act sensibly to stop the scourge and manage the problem scientifically by also utilizing best global practices in the management of plastic waste.