Plastic Waste

Unmanaged and littered plastic waste has adverse impacts on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, the government underlined and rightly so while responding to a written query in the ongoing monsoon session of the parliament. There is no doubt that plastic does more harm than good. The perils of plastic pollution are manifold. As per Annual Report of CPCB for the year 2019-20, the plastic waste generation in India has 34.69 lakh tonnes per annum (TPA) during the year 2019-20.  Approximately 15.8 Lakh TPA of plastic waste was recycled and 1.67 Lakh TPA was co-processed in cement kilns. While the data suggest around 40 percent of the waste was recycled, the rest has been accumulating mainly in the water bodies causing irreparable damage to aquatic ecosystems, choking and polluting rivers, besides piling up in extensive landfills. Plastic can pollute the soil and contaminate water with harmful chemicals. It also contributes to about 4.5 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, according to credible estimates.

There are several rules and regulations dealing with the subject. The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, provides the statutory framework for plastic waste management in an environmentally sound manner throughout the country, the government says. Considering the adverse effect of littered single use plastic items on terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems, the Ministry of environment, forest and climate change notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, on 12 August last year, prohibiting identified single use plastic items, which have low utility and high littering potential, from 1st July 2022. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has also notified the guidelines on the Extended Producer Responsibility for plastic packaging vide Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2022, on 16th February, 2022.

Further, the government says, all thirty six States/UTs have constituted the Special Task Force under the chairpersonship of the Chief Secretary / Administrator for elimination of identified single use plastic items and effective plastic waste management. A National Level Taskforce has also been constituted by the Ministry in this regard. Under Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0, the government says, additional Central Assistance is provided to States and Union Territories for solid waste management including plastic waste management in urban and rural areas.

Under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the states and UTs are required to set up institutional mechanisms for enforcement of provisions of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 through State Pollution Control Boards  and Pollution Control Committees. While laws and rules are there, eradicating the offensive material should be a continuous process and all measures need to be taken in this regard.

Related Articles