India’s Garbage Disposal

  • IASbaba
  • September 30, 2022
  • 0
Environment & Ecology
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Context: This monsoon, several parts of India have found themselves literally swimming in filth and sewage. Gutters have choked with garbage, plastics being one of the main reasons for it.

  • Single-use plastic carry-bags have been singled out for particular attention and regular meetings have been held to educate – as well as admonish — people about their use.
  • Thus, good behaviour of the people is seen as the key to change the plastic use pattern.

What is single-use plastic?

  • As the name suggests, it refers to plastic items that are used once and discarded. E.g., plastics used in packaging items, bottles (shampoo, detergents, cosmetics), polythene bags, face masks, coffee cups, cling film, trash bags, food packaging etc.

Maintaining the producer Accountability is need of the Hour:

  • In a clogged gutter, we generally find branded packaging material — metal foil wrappers, bottles and boxes of various grades of plastics — are a substantial part of the mess inside.
  • This packaging is required because the products must have a long shelf life, and withstand heat, sunlight and rough handling during freight.
  • As packing contribute the significant aspect of this plastic pollution so, there is need to address the main concern

 Regulation of Plastic waste :

  • Centre and state governments have laws for plastic waste regulation, but it requires the effective implementation by the bureaucracy and it is the bureaucratic ability to implement them which will define its outcomes.
  • According to the law, the ultimate manufacturers (UMs) of the plastic films — the raw material for the much-reviled carry-bags and also the much larger volume of branded packaging — are responsible for the collection of this waste and its processing.
  • They must set up collection networks and work with state pollution control boards and the city and town administrations to ensure that this waste reaches recyclers and manufacturers. The rural regions are, of course, ignored.

 However, responsibility of producer for collecting the plastic is not effective

  • While Rs 8 out of 100 was spent on packaging the product, the cost of the packaging materials is barely Rs 1. The rest of the cost is in shaping this raw material into packaging unit
  • Given the volumes manufacturing plant, hundreds of shampoo bottles need to be filled per minute and soaps need to be packed. The machines which do this are some of the most intricate combinations of sensors and control systems. Most of them are imported and contribute significantly to the cost.
  • Of the Re 1 of the reusable material, even with the most advanced recycling technology, the value of that piece of garbage in our hand to the ultimate manufacturer is less than 50 paise. Therefore, it is simply not economical to transfer the waste back to the manufacturer

Hence, only where this waste is concentrated and there are abjectly poor people available to segregate, can supply chains exist to take it back to the chemical plants.

This is why the garbage dumps, ragpickers and the neighbourhood kabadi shops are necessarily the only viable last mile of our recycling system.

Plastic waste management rules in India:

  • With effect from September 30, 2021 India has the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.
  • It prohibited the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of plastic carry bags whose thickness is less than 75 microns.
  • From December 31, 2022, plastic carry bags whose thickness is less than 120 microns will be banned.
  • It means that the ban does not cover all plastic bags; however, it requires the manufacturers to produce plastic bags thicker than 75 microns which was earlier 50 microns.
  • As per the notification, the standard shall be increased to 120 microns in December this year.

Way Forward:

  • By implementing a sustainability tax on the packaging and carriage cost components of a given product
    • Given the elaborate bureaucratic machinery of the GST and the formal nature of the dealer network of large FMCG companies, this tax can be easily administered and transferred to the districts and town
    • Such a consumption tax based on concrete aspects of sustainability, and its local devolution, would create the right incentives for a scientific analysis of garbage and the logistics of its disposal. It will also create a clutch of professional companies who specialise in this sector and provide their services to the hundreds of cities
  • There is need for a coordination among city’s stressed garbage collection system and a few good Samaritans at the Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra — an NGO.
  • As with most public services, such as education or drinking water, the goodness of heart of a few and the noble intentions of our leaders, rather than a professionally run system, form the basis of delivery of this important environmental service.

Therefore, on decentralization of sophistication process that would create more jobs for our youth and give them more dignity. And improve the quality of our lives and help preserve the environment.

Source: Indian Express                 

Previous Year Question

Q.1) With reference to polyethylene terephthalate, the use of which is so widespread in our daily lives, consider the following statements:

  1. Its fibres can be blended with wool and cotton fibres to reinforce their properties.
  2. Containers made of it can be used to store any alcoholic beverage.
  3. Bottles made of it can be recycled into other products.
  4. Articles made of it can be easily disposed of by incineration without causing greenhouse gas emissions.

Which of the statements given above are correct? (2022)

  1. 1 and 3
  2. 2 and 4
  3. 1 and 4
  4. 2 and 3

Q.2) Magnetite particles, suspected to cause neurodegenerative problems are generated as environmental pollutants from which of the following? (2021)

  1. Brakes of motor vehicles
  2. Engines of motor vehicles
  3. Microwave stoves within homes
  4. Power plants
  5. Telephone lines

Select the correct answer using the code given below

  1. 1, 2, 3 and 5 only
  2. 1, 2 and 4 only
  3. 3, 4 and 5 only
  4. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5


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