Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Environment Day is observed every year on June 5. This year, it marks the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day which is observed to encourage awareness and action for environmental protection by the global community. This year, the theme of the day will focus on solutions to plastic pollution under the campaign “Beat Plastic Pollution.’
The day was first marked on June 5, 1973, during the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. At that time, the theme was ‘Only One Earth’.
World Environment Day aims to bring together millions of people from across the globe, engaging them in the effort to protect and restore the Earth.
There is no doubt that plastic does more harm than good. The perils of plastic pollution are manifold.
As per Environment, Forest and Climate Change, unmanaged and littered plastic waste including plastic packaging waste has adverse impacts on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Referring to Annual Report of CPCB for the year 2019-20, the Ministry informed parliament earlier this year that the plastic waste generation in the country has been 34.69 lakh tonnes per annum (TPA) during the year 2019-20 of which approximately 15.8 Lakh TPA of plastic waste was recycled and 1.67 Lakh TPA was co-processed in cement kilns.
Plastic pollutes the soil and contaminates 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, prohibiting identified single use plastic items, which have low utility and high littering potential. 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.
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, “beating plastic pollution” should be a continuous process and all measures need to be taken in this regard.