- 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.
- 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.
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