Ban on Single Use Plastic from July 2022

 The Environment Ministry released a notification on 12th August,2021, about ban on single-use plastic items. The Ministry’s notification on waste management amendment, 2021, states that “The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of single use plastic, including polystyrene, and expanded polystyrene commodities shall be prohibited with effect from 1st July, 2022.”

What will be banned?

The amendment prohibits the plastic items which have “low utility and high littering potential”. It also aims to ban Polythene bags with lower levels of thickness, in a phased manner. Polythene bags with less than 50 micron thickness are already banned. Bags with thickness less than 70 micron will be banned by September. By 31st December, next year, Polythene with less than 120 micron thickness will also be banned. 

The main items that will be banned from next year includes;  plastic sticks found in earbuds, balloons, flags, ice creams, candies, etc. It also includes thermocol used for decoration and single use plastic cutlery items such as fork, knife, spoon, plates, cups, glasses, straw, trays, wrapping film around the sweet boxes. PVC banners with less than 100 micron will also be banned.  The ban is not applicable to any compostable plastic. 

According to the statements by the officials, the main objective of these changes is to protect the environment from harmful plastics. The major reason is that the plastic waste is neither collected nor recycled properly. Thicker plastic is easier to be recycled, as compared to the thinner or single-use plastic items. Officials have said that the alternatives for the banned plastic items such as single use cutlery will be ensured and promoted. 

As per the data of The Environment Ministry and The Energy Resources Institute (TERI) in 2018, 43% of the plastic manufactured is mostly for single use, and are used for the purpose of packaging. 9.7kg plastic is used by each person annually in India, most of which is used for packaging related activities. According to the experts, the consumption and waste management pattern has to be shifted with a more eco-friendly approach. Single use plastic contaminates the water as well as soil. It also chokes the waterways and blocks the sewage system. 

The reforms will be monitored by the Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards. They will ensure to take into consideration the violations and impose penalties as per the Environmental Protection Act. The states and Union Territories have been requested to coordinate with a special task force to ensure the elimination of single use plastic. Previously, India had addressed the issue of single use plastic in the 4th UN environment assembly held in 2019. 

With the cooperation of the policy makers, manufacturers and the citizens, plastic waste can be reduced to a great extent.