Environment & Ecology
Context: The Centre has defined a list of single-use plastic items that will be banned from July 1.
What is single-use plastic?
- It refers to plastic items that are used once and discarded.
- Single-use plastic has among the highest shares of plastic manufactured and used — from packaging of items, to bottles, polythene bags, face masks, coffee cups, cling film, trash bags, food packaging etc.
- Single-use plastics account for a third of all plastic produced globally, with 98% manufactured from fossil fuels.
- Single-use plastic also accounts for the majority of plastic discarded – 130 million metric tonnes globally in 2019
- On the current trajectory of production, it has been projected that single-use plastic could account for 5-10% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
- India features in the top 100 countries of single-use plastic waste generation – at rank 94
What are the items being banned?
- The items on which the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have announced a ban are earbuds; balloon sticks; candy and ice-cream sticks; cutlery items including plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, trays; sweet boxes; invitation cards; cigarette packs; PVC banners measuring under 100 microns; and polystyrene for decoration.
- Polythene bags under 75 microns is already under ban
Why these items?
- The chosen items are difficult to collect for recycling, unlike the much larger items
How will the ban be enforced?
- The ban will be monitored by the CPCB from the Centre, and by the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) that will report to the Centre regularly.
- Those found violating the ban can be penalised under the Environment Protection Act 1986 – which allows for imprisonment up to 5 years, or a penalty up to Rs 1 lakh, or both.
How are other countries dealing with single-use plastic?
- Earlier this year, 124 countries, parties to the United Nations Environment Assembly, including India, signed a resolution to draw up an agreement which will in the future make it legally binding for the signatories to address the full life of plastics from production to disposal, to end plastic pollution.
- Bangladesh became the first country to ban thin plastic bags in 2002.
- As of July 2019, 68 countries have plastic bag bans with varying degrees of enforcement.
Source: Indian Express
Previous Year Question
Q.1) Why is there a great concern about the ‘microbeads’ that are released into environment? (2019)
- They are considered harmful to marine ecosystems.
- They are considered to cause skin cancer in children.
- They are small enough to be absorbed by crop plants in irrigated fields.
- They are often found to be used as food adulterants.
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