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HCFI Dr KK Aggarwal Research Fund Round Table Environment Expert Zoom Meeting on “Implementation Challenges in Banned Single Use Plastic Items and Plastic Waste Management”

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Dr Veena Aggarwal, Consultant Womens’ Health, CMD and Editor-in-Chief, IJCP Group & Medtalks Trustee, Dr KK’s Heart Care Foundation of India    05 February 2023

January 29 2023, Sunday

12 noon – 1 pm

 

 

  • Last year, the government banned some single use plastic (SUP) products effective from 1st July. From December 2022, plastic bags less than 120 micron were also banned. Polythene bags under 75 microns had already been banned in September 2021.
  • Implementation of the ban is a big challenge as despite the ban, these bags continue to be used as  they are easily available. The ground reality is not as it should have been after six months of the ban.
  • Multilayered plastic (MLP) is a major challenge.
  • The biggest challenge is lack of seriousness on the part of citizens. People are careless about the rules and regulations. Authorities have to work to change this mindset.
  • As responsible citizens, we should follow these rules and stop using the banned single use plastic items.
  • The definition of the banned items needs to be clearer as there is lot confusion among the citizens about these items. The message should very clearly trickle down the line as to what is banned and what is not.
  • There is lack of awareness about the SUPs and what items are banned among the general public.
  • The government authorities also do not have a thorough knowledge of what banned items are to be seized. For instance, plastic sheet if used for wrapping sweet box is banned, but if it is used to wrap some other industrial product in a manufacturing unit, it is allowed. The thickness criteria applies only to plastic carry bags, but the authorities also seize plastic sheets/rolls.
  • Some ban has to be implemented at the manufacturing level. Certain bans have to be implemented at the retailer level. This rule therefore has to come out with lot of clarity.
  • There is lot of communication gap between the various organizations involved. Training programs are required.
  • The livelihood of millions of people will be affected if there is blanket ban on SUPs. The government has not come out with alternate solutions for industries, much in advance to allow for smooth transition, engaged in manufacturing the banned SUPs. The question of employment of lakhs of people makes it difficult to execute it as a blanket ban.
  • There is a regular demand of such types of SUP banned items. The alternatives available are very costly and they are also available in very small quantities. Hence, parallel to the ban, the government should have developed a market for alternative products.
  • Only 19 items have been banned. States have the power to include more single use items to this list. Only Sikkim has added plastic bottles to the list of banned items.
  • Use of carry bags is allowed in Delhi. There is a mindset that plastic bags are SUPs and hence are banned.
  • The authorities are also not clear about what actions to take. The MCD has no provision for financial penalty.
  • Just inspecting the stores for the banned items will not serve the purpose. The problem occurs after use. It should be intercepted at the point where it is going to be used or is being disposed after use.
  • There should be knowledgeable people with powers to take action legally. There should be delegation of powers. The pollution control boards should have powers similar to the excise department.
  • Another challenge is that the pollution control boards are understaffed and new staff is not being recruited.
  • The reasons for failure should be identified and discussed to learn from them.
  • The biggest challenge is of enforcement of the rules. There is no specific state machinery for this.
  • Shopkeepers also complain that they do not have proper alternatives to SUPs, which acts as a deterrent for the implementation.
  • India generated 41.26 lakh tonnes of plastic waste in one year from 2020-21. Almost half of all plastic used in India in 2017 (around 160 lakh tonnes in total) was single-use plastic.
  • Most SUPs find their way into landfills and either cannot be, or are not, recycled.
  • The need to tackle this problem has been identified at both the national and international level. India was one of the 175 countries that pledged to develop a legally binding international treaty to curb plastic pollution across the world.
  • The government’s SUP Public Grievance App enables citizens to report and track SUP-related complaints with pictures.
  • We need to control our needs in order to reduce plastic pollution
  • Public is not involved when rules are being framed.
  • Instead of ban, efforts should be made to improve their recycling.
  • There is no use of the ban if sustainable alternatives are not available.
  • A complete review of the Rules is needed.
  • A government-citizen partnership is needed to tackle the increasing problem of plastic pollution.

 

Participants

 

Dr Anil Kumar

Mr Paritosh Tyagi

Dr SK Gupta

Mr Pradeep Khandelwal

Mr Neeraj Tyagi

Mr Ashish Jain

Mr Lovekesh Chandra

Ms Neena Gupta

Dr S Sharma

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