This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Plastic waste imports
2017-18: imports from EU
China used to process half the world’s plastic waste until last year, but starting January it decided not to accept any more ‘dirty’ plastics, such as bottles with paper wrappers on them, because mixed materials are hard to recycle. Low-grade plastic waste was simply burnt in open pits, worsening air pollution. The European Union was hit hardest by China’s ban because it doesn’t have spare land for landfills and recycles about a third of its plastic waste. Where the EU used to earn £25-40 per tonne of plastic waste, now it is paying importers £40-60 per tonne. Malaysia has become the top importer with a four-fold increase. India’s plastic waste imports have also more than doubled.
Plastic wastes, domestic
2010-11: plastic waste in major Indian cities
In his Independence Day speech, PM Narendra Modi called for significant steps to make the country free from single-use plastic.
According to a report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), as of July last year, 127 of the 192 countries reviewed have adopted some form of legislation to regulate plastic bags. These regulations include restrictions on manufacture, distribution, use, and trade of plastic bags, taxation and levies, and postuse disposal. The UNEP has said the regulations vary considerably in their comprehensiveness, but the most common form is the restriction on free retail distribution.
A 2015 study conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 60 major Indian cities estimated that these cities were generating around 4,059 tonnes of plastic waste daily. Extrapolating the data for the entire country, an answer to a question in Parliament estimated that the figure would be 25,940 tons a day. Delhi topped the list with 690 tonnes of daily plastic waste, followed by Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.
The study stated that there were 20 cities where plastic waste was more than 7.5% of the total municipal solid waste and hence there was an urgent need to establish waste recycling and treatment centres. In a 2018 study, CPCB estimated that about 80% of the plastics consumed are used in the packaging sector. It noted that per capita consumption of plastic in India was 9.7kg annually, which was lower than the global average.
27 nations imposed plastic ban
The UNEP report states that there are 27 countries that have legally imposed some type of ban on single-use plastics or on specific products like plates, cups, straws and so on. There are 29 countries that have enacted taxes on single-use plastics. Apart from this, 63 countries have enacted what are called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) measures such as product-take back schemes on single-use plastics.
In India too, the government has notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. These rules, applicable to all states, prohibit carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than 50 microns in thickness.
There is complete ban on sachets using plastic material for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala. As per Rule 17(3) of the Rules, each State Pollution Control Board or Pollution Control Committee (SPCBs/PCCs) is required to submit annual reports to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the implementation of the rules by the July 31 each year.
Based on this, the CPCB is supposed to prepare a consolidated report on use and management of plastic waste and forward it to the central government along with its recommendations.
As in 2018
Phase Out Single Use Plastics: Centre To States
India generates 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste every day, but 40% of it remains uncollected causing choking of drainage and river systems, littering of the marine ecosystem, soil and water pollution, ingestion by stray animals, and open air burning leading to adverse impact on human health and environment.
These facts are stated in the Centre’s latest missive to states and Union territories on phasing out single-use plastics which are neither biodegradable nor recyclable.
It noted that nearly onesixth of the total plastic waste is generated by 60 major cities, with Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bengaluru together generating more than 50% of the total ‘contribution’ from these cities.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had conducted a study in these 60 major cities of India, finding that they generate in total 4,059 tonnes of plastic waste every day. Extrapolating this data from the cities covering the 2010-12 period, the board had last year estimated countrywide data and submitted it to the environment ministry. It found that 10,376 tonnes (40%) of the 25,940 tonnes of such waste generated per day stays uncollected.
Taking cognizance of the menace, India had last year voluntarily committed to eliminate, at the least, singleuse plastics by 2022.
Union environment secretary C K Mishra shared standard guidelines with states and UTs on Monday, asking them to step up prohibitive actions so that the country can meet its 2022 goal on phasing out single-use plastics. The guidelines suggest different sets of actions, including legal ones, which states may take to minimise production and use of single-use plastics.
Asked about the move, Gopal Krishna of the Toxic Watch Alliance (TWA) said, “It’s certainly a step in the right direction, but more steps require to be taken. The campaign should not be limited to single-use plastics.”
As a first major step, he said, the government should immediately ban “import of plastic waste”. “China and Malaysia did it. Why can’t India,” asked Krishna, who has been following the issue of hazardous and municipal solid waste (MSW), including plastic waste, for long.
“The government banned import of plastic waste, especially PET bottles, in 2015. But a 2016 amendment done at the behest of foreign and domestic plastic waste traders has let in imports in Special Economic Zones,” he said.
The study found that average plastic waste generation is around 6.9% of the total MSW in the country. It varies from 3.1% (Chandigarh) to 12.4% (Surat). Plastic waste is over 10% of total MSW in Delhi, over 9% in Chennai and over 6% in Mumbai.
The study noted that around 94% of total plastic waste comprises of “thermoplastic” content which is recyclable, such as PET.
Ban on plastic, state-wise
2016, generation of plastic waste, state-wise
While Maharashtra may be gearing up for a stringent ban on plastic, experience from across the country suggests that States’ claims on reigning in plastic are stronger on paper than on the ground.
According to the Centre’s Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, 2016, all States have to annually apprise the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the steps taken to reign in plastic use, whether a ban is in force, and the strength and performance of a recycler and waste-processing network. The latest such report — as of July 2016 — notes that only 24 States and Union Territories have complied with these directions.
Life in plastic: on waste management framework
Most States, while claiming a ban, qualify it by saying that the ban is imposed in specific towns or cities. Or that it is focussed on particular categories of plastic. Take Assam. Its performance report states that while there is a “complete ban” on plastic carry bags in Kamrup, Sonitpur, Nalbari, Dibrugarh, it allows the import of “substandard plastic carry bags”, provided the Commissioner of Taxes, Assam is informed.
In Gujarat, the estimated plastic waste generation is approximately 2,69,294 tonnes per annum and there are nearly 689 plastic waste recyclers, all of them registered. But only Gandhinagar — the capital city but with less than 4% of neighbouring Ahmedabad’s population — has an “explicit” ban on the use of plastic carry bags.
Delhi, which reportedly generates the largest quantity of plastic waste in the country, has not provided information on its plastic management initiatives to the CPCB.
The law requires that all plastic waste recyclers register themselves but there were around 312 unregistered plastic manufacturing/recycling units in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Manipur, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttrakhand and Uttar Pradesh. “…It is observed that most of the States/UTs have not set-up proper monitoring system for use of carry bags as per the specified guidelines. It has been observed that those States/UTs, who have imposed complete ban on use and sale of plastic carry bags, the plastic bags are stocked, sold and used indiscriminately. Besides, substandard carry bags (<50 micron) are used widely in other States/UTs, violating PWM Rules, 2016,” the CPCB highlights in the report.
India generates an estimated 32 million metric tonnes of packaging waste each year, of which plastic waste constitutes 16%. But only 60% of the collected plastic waste is recycled.
Around 43% of manufactured plastics are used for packaging, most of it “single-use” plastic. So far, not a single one of the 24 States that report their plastic waste management performance have plans in place to tackle single use plastics.
Independent experts say that while Maharashtra’s initiative is laudable, it still hinges on extremely efficient enforcement. “Maharashtra has increased its collection centres in the last three months but the problem remains — what alternatives exist to single use plastics?” said Swati Sambyal who works on waste management policy at the Centre for Science and Environment. “The manpower requirements and enforcement challenges are enormous.”
Kerala and Sikkim, according to Ms. Sambyal, are the States with the most creditable plastic waste management policies. “Sikkim has a system of buying back plastic from consumers. Maharashtra needs to implement such a system,” she said.
Maharashtra plastic ban: As per the notification, violators will be fined Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 for the first and second-time offense. A third-time offender will have to shell out Rs 25,000 and may also face imprisonment for a period of three months.
Maharashtra government will start penalising all those found using plastic products, including single-use disposable items from tomorrow (Express Photo by Sahil Walia) From June 23, India’s second-populous state Maharashtra has started penalising all those found using plastic products, including single-use disposable items. The Devendra Fadnavis-led state government enforced the ban after issuing the Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products (manufacture, usage, sale, transport, handling, and storage) notification in March this year. The government had given the manufacturers, distributors, and consumers a period of three months to dispose their existing stock and come up with alternatives to plastic usage.
While environmentalists welcomed the cabinet’s decision, the plastic industry has slammed the government calling it “retrograde step.” With its huge dependence on plastic and lack of alternatives to the banned products, many also wonder if the plan would be a success. Here is all you need to know about the Maharashtra plastic ban:
What is the plastic ban about and when was it implemented?
The Maharashtra government on March 23, 2018, banned the manufacture, usage, sale, transport, distribution, wholesale and retail sale and storage, import of plastic bags with or without handle, and disposable products made out of plastic and thermocol. Citing the environmental risks and harm caused to wild animals from ingestion or entanglement in plastic, the government enforced the ban with immediate effect.
What all plastic products are covered under the ban?
Under the notification products manufactured from plastic and thermocol have been covered under the ban. As a result usage of plastic bags with a handle and without handle, disposable cups, and plates, spoons, forks, glasses, and containers is prohibited in the state. Plastic packaging used to wrap and store the product is also included in the ban.
Apart from this plastic straw, non-woven polypropene bags, pouches and any other plastic used to store, package and transfer food items will no longer be permitted in the state. Besides, it has banned the use of plastic and thermocol for decoration purposes.
delhi air pollution, dpcc, pwd, garbage disposal delhi, delhi pollution latest news, toxic gas in delhi, indian express Maharashtra plastic ban: While the ban will be implemented within Maharashtra, passengers coming to the state from other parts of the country are also expected to maintain caution while disposing plastic at stations.
Plastic items excluded from the ban
- Plastic used for packaging medicines and drugs
- Food grade virgin plastic used for packaging milk
- Compostable packaging bags used for horticulture and agriculture purposes
- Plastic bags used for exporting goods
- Plastic used at the manufacturing stage
- Plastic used for handling of solid waste
What is the fine if found using these plastic products?
As per the notification, violators will be fined Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 for the first and second-time offense. A third-time offender will have to shell out Rs 25,000 and may also face imprisonment for a period of three months.
While the ban will be implemented within Maharashtra, passengers coming to the state from other parts of the country are also expected to maintain caution while disposing plastic at stations.
Who will implement and monitor the ban?
Officials from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and district and local administration have been authorised to implement it. For regulating this law at tourist locations, tourism police, or Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation has been made responsible.
The government has also formed an association comprising of plastic manufacturers, ministry officials and environmental experts to oversee the implementation of the ban.
Maharashtra plastic ban: Maharashtra plastic ban: The government has come up with ‘Buy Back’ policy where the stall owner is expected to offer money in return over the plastic bottle deposited by the user. (PTI File photo) Confusion on the ground
While the notification was passed in March, the government has revised it multiple times over the course of three months. Many in the state are still awaiting a clarity on how the mechanism will it work.
The government has come up with ‘Buy Back’ policy where the stall owner is expected to offer money in return over the plastic bottle deposited by the user. While the state government is expected to repay the amount shelled by stall owners in payback, licensees claimed no official communication has been received. “Without a sufficient number of crushing machines at stations, disposing of plastic bottles would not be possible. With only four days left for the ban, we are not sure as to what has to be done of the available bottles,” Amit Mittal, proprietor of three stalls at railway said.
On the other hand, the dairy operators in the state have been ordered to put in place a buyback mechanism for plastic milk pouches till July 11. Besides this, they are also not allowed to use plastic bags less than 50 microns thickness to package the milk. They should print a buyback price, of not less than Rs 0.50, for the pouches. Officials of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Milk Federation, an apex federation of district and taluka-level milk unions, said that they have written to the state dairy development and environment departments seeking more information. “We have asked for clarity on how to set up the recollection mechanism and how the refund system will work,” said an official from the federation.
“Using plastic bags above 50 microns and setting up the buyback mechanism for recycling will put an additional financial burden on dairies. So, the government should guide us in setting up the mechanism and also provide some funds. Otherwise, it may lead to increase in milk prices,” Arun Narke, former president of Indian Dairy Association and director of Gokul Dairy in Kolhapur, said.
Maharashtra plastic ban: Maharashtra plastic ban: While environmentalists welcomed the cabinet’s decision, the plastic industry has slammed the government calling it “retrograde step.” (Express Photo by Vignesh Krishnamoorthy) Environmentalists welcome move, plastic industry frowns
Mumbai-based NGO, Vanshakti, which works for safeguarding the environment, welcomed the government’s decision saying such a ban should have rather been brought 10 years ago. “The menace and damage caused by excessive careless and needless use of plastic has caused a massive damage to the ecosystem,” the NGO’s convener, Stalin D, said. “The burning and degradation of plastic releases carcinogenic toxins. The micro-plastics have entered our food chain. Wherever plastic is needed for packaging like the milk pouches, there cellulose-based compostable plastic can be used,” he suggested, PTI reported.
Commercial bodies, like the All India Plastic Manufacturers Association, the Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) and the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India, say the ban would have an adverse impact on the Rs 50,000-crore industry, besides affecting the ancillary units.
MCCI’s vice president Lalit Gandhi said the ban on plastic bags has derailed the production, packaging and supply schedules of the grains, bakery and clothing industries. “Many units are on the verge of closure in the absence of the basic packaging material – the plastic bags – and we fear that nearly three lakh people employed there may become jobless,” he said.
Aaditya Thackeray on plastic ban
Yuva Sena President Aaditya Thackeray said unlike demonetisation, officials had been preparing for the plastic ban move for the last nine months. The leader said there has been a lot of awareness about the plastic ban and only the willful offenders are worried about the fine.
How Firms Will Refund, Recycle Waste Plastic
What is Maharashtra’s plastic depository system?
Like some other states, onetime use plastic and thermocol items have been banned under the Maharashtra Plastic & Thermocol Products Act, 2018. But the Act also prescribes a first-of-itskind scheme in the country: A buyback plan for PET bottles and milk pouches. Under it, manufacturers should charge a refundable amount when a person buys a bottled or pouched product. The deposit will be refunded once the bottle is deposited with the retailer or with reverse-vending machines.
Who bears the cost?
The scheme puts the onus of collecting and recycling bottles and pouches on manufacturers. In fact, recycling was made a manufacturing licence norm in the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. Manufacturers have to submit designs on how they propose to implement the scheme. Also, the onus of tying up with recyclers is on manufacturers. Top beverage-makers, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Bisleri, have begun printing a buyback value on PET bottles sold in Maharashtra to comply with the new regulations.
Is there any other mechanism to hold firms liable?
The state government has directed FMCG companies to create an escrow account or reserve fund of Rs 25,000 per lakh of multi-layered plastic packets and tetrapacks under the supervision of the pollution control board to collect, recycle and reuse packs that litter public places.
What is the consumer’s liability?
A consumer must return a PET bottle or pouch to claim the deposit. If caught littering by civic and police officials, the person can be penalised. Since such microlevel vigilance by authorities is unfeasible, the practical aim of the buyback scheme is to incentivise the return of plastic bottles/pouches, which will be of value, at least to agents like ragpickers.
Where else does such a buyback mechanism exist?
It doesn’t exist anywhere else in India. Overseas, it is being implemented in at least 40 countries, including the US, Germany and Norway (where 97% of PET is recycled). The United Kingdom plans to launch such a scheme soon.
To what products does the scheme apply in Maharashtra?
As of now, it is meant for PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles and milk pouches. The government has asked retailers to examine a similar depository mechanism for retail packaging as well.
What will the recycled plastic be used for?
Industrial fuel, road-building (by compacting plastic) and the manufacture of dry-fit jerseys, to name a few.
Bans in Delhi and Maharashtra
The bans on plastic in Delhi and Maharashtra, as in 2018