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Plastic Waste management

  • IASbaba
  • December 30, 2022
  • 0
Environment & Ecology
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Context:

  • An audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India was conducted for 2020-21, which included Central Public Sector Enterprises of Scientific and environmental ministries/departments.
  • It aimed to assess the effectiveness and compliance of the provisions of Plastic Waste Management Rules to examine their adequacy in managing plastic waste.
  • It also addressed the risks posed by plastic waste to the environment and health.

Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021

  • These rules prohibit identified single use plastic items which have low utility and high littering potential by 2022.
  • The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of single-use plastic, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities shall be prohibited.
  • The thickness of plastic carry bags has been increased from 50 microns to 75 microns and to 120 microns with effect from the 31st December, 2022.
  • The plastic packaging waste shall be collected and managed in an environmentally sustainable way through the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) of the Producer, importer and Brand owner.
  • The Central Pollution Control Board, along with state pollution bodies, will monitor the ban, identify violations, and impose penalties already prescribed under the Environmental Protection Act.
  • States/UTs have been requested to constitute a Special Task Force for elimination of single use plastics and effective implementation of the rules.
  • A National Level Taskforce has also been constituted for coordination efforts
  • The MoEF&CC stated to have adopted a three-pronged strategy for effective implementation of the rules
  • behavioural change
  • strengthening of the institutional system for the collection, segregation and recycling of plastic waste
  • engagement with producers, importers and brand owners.

Challenges of plastic waste:

  • Millions of tonnes of plastic waste are lost to the environment or sometimes shipped thousands of kilometres to destinations where it is mostly burned or dumped.
  • If incinerated, its toxic compounds are spewed into the atmosphere to be accumulated in biotic forms throughout the surrounding ecosystems.
  • When buried in a landfill, plastic lies untreated for years.
  • In the process, toxic chemicals from plastics drain and seep into groundwater, flowing downstream into lakes and rivers.
  • The seeping of plastic also causes soil pollution due to the presence of microplastics in the soil.
  • Rivers and lakes also carry plastic waste from deep inland to the sea, making them major contributors to ocean pollution.

Issues with implementation:

  • The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has mechanisms to assess the generation of plastic waste, but none for its collection and safe disposal.
  • Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, 2016, could not be implemented effectively and efficiently due to a lack of an action plan by the MoEF&CC.
  • The ministry did not have an action plan for the effective implementation of the three-pronged strategy for 2015-20
  • The ministry is also lacking in effective coordination with pollution control boards.
  • The ministry was also silent about the existence of a policy for plastic waste reduction, reuse and recycling.
  • The preparation of a comprehensive action plan was initiated in May 2021 and is still underway.
  • The stakeholders — the ministry, CPCB, State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) — are not working in tandem to control generation, putting effective system for collection and safe disposal of plastic waste
  • The Plastic Waste Management Rules framed by MoEF&CC lack comprehensiveness to give thrust to effective implementation and monitoring thereof.
  • There is no uniform method for assessment of plastic waste generation within a state.
  • East Delhi Municipal Corporation assumed the plastic waste generation to be 10 per cent while South Delhi calculated it at the rate of 4.4 to 6 per cent of the total waste generated.

Suggestions for future:

  • Waste collection, recycling, co-processing and its ultimate disposal in scientific and environment friendly manner are essential elements of plastic waste management system.
  • A reliable assessment of waste generated is essential for planning and effective implementation of waste management, which can guide in decision-making.
  • Accurate data of assessment of plastic waste is the first step towards effective policymaking,
  • Implementing a sustainability tax on the packaging and carriage cost components of a given product.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Way forward:

  • The Indian government’s ban on single-use plastics (SUPs) is a step in right direction.
  • The recommendations of Biodegradable Committee (under Director-General CIPET) may be examined by MoEFCC.
  • Information, education & communication (IEC) and Digitalisation is an important cornerstone to ensure plastic waste management.

MUST READ Plastic pollution

Source DTE

 

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