In 2011, the measure of plastic waste created by the nation was nearly 7,000,000 metric tons each year and is assessed to be more than 50 million, metric tons each year in the year 2041. This measurement shows the measure of plastic waste produced across India from 2001 to 2011, with gauges up to 2041. India generates close to 26,000 metric tonnes of plastic a day, according to a CPCB*(Center for Pollution Control Board) estimate from 2012. Worse, a little over 10,000 metric tonnes a day of plastic waste remains uncollected. FYI (one tonne is equal to 1000 kgs almost equal to a garbage truck).
Unsegregated and uncollected plastics eventually end up in landfills, rivers, and finally to the Oceans. By 2050, various reports show that the alarming mismanagement of waste, the amount of plastic in seas and oceans across the world will weigh more than the fishes. With considerable efforts to clean up the water system with nationwide river cleaning campaigns our river Ganga comes second after China’s Huang Ho in Asian Region.
Our plastic consumption and utilization are expanding and growing. The plastic preparing industry is assessed to grow to 22 million tons (MT) a year by 2020 from 13.4 MT in 2015. Of which almost 50% of this is single-utilize plastic, as indicated by a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce* and Industry study. But if we compare to our counterpart country the US, less than 11kg, India’s per capita plastic consumption is nearly one-tenth of the US, which is at 109kg. Per person. This shows that we still have hope to minimize waste production on a global basis.
This is How a Landfill looks like?
The 2016 Plastic Waste Management Rules* were an attempt to improve some legislation and Plastic Waste Management. Each state a local body has to be responsible for setting up infrastructure for segregation, collection, processing, and disposal of plastic waste. Additionally, the rules, amended in 2018, introduced the concept of EPR (extended producer responsibility), according to which the producers (manufacturers, importers, and those using plastic in packaging), as well as brand owners, would be held responsible for collecting the waste that their products generate. There were many challenges on EPR’s as well, the most important challenge we face as of now is the infrastructure, we need better collecting bins, better infrastructure, and technology for segregation and processing the waste.
There are some laws that are ambiguous in nature and some practical. You will be surprised to know that there are some mandatory laws that enforce hefty charges and fines, but the one I like is that you can collect money or charge anyone for their waste if it’s not being managed or if you do it, however, no one bats an eye over it.
Please Avoid Sling Wraps!
In terms of avoiding and banning plastic and single-use product, Sikkim was the first and pioneer in banning plastic bags as far back as 1998. Which is almost more than a decade from today. Others followed, and so far, around 22 states and UTs have bans in place. Banning was not the solution unless the mass is aware of the issues or their repercussions and, most importantly if the alternative is not available then things don’t work out the way they should. So instead of closing down plastic manufacturing and trading units and rendering lakhs jobless, they should have been nudged to produce alternatives.
The general public and users should be provided with feasible alternatives, which are not costly, and made aware of these options. The industry should also be pushed to work on R&D to work on packaging alternatives, provided with time to work on this and given targets to phase out different types of plastic.
Please Segregate dry and wet waste!
Rather than a sudden blanket ban, the laws should suggest phasing out single-use plastic according to whether these are high priority items that need to be replaced immediately and for which alternatives are available, and those that require more time to be phased out. The forthcoming norms on extended producer responsibilities should be stringent and in execution, awareness and proper waste management will definitely hold out hope for India’s attempts at reducing plastic waste, provided all stakeholders, including consumers, step up and manage their waste like a responsible Indian citizen.
This is my first post on plastic waste. I’m a plastic minimalist and trying to live a sustainable lifestyle. I’m a nature-loving person and appreciates everything Nature has provided us. I’ll be updating blogs and articles on the same topics I hope to provide you much information and pass on the message of living a Sustainable life and become a Plastic minimalist. Hope you enjoy my articles and appreciate any feedback or suggestions or any updated information on the topic we discuss.
* Sources, CPCB, FICCI, Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016.