Indian Government set to ban 6 Single-Use Plastics nationwide on Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday, officials announced. The country is yet to eradicate single-use plastics from cities and villages ranked amongst the world’s most polluted.
India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is set to launch the campaign banning as many as six items on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on 2nd October in his efforts to scrap such plastics by 2022, officials said.
These 6 Single-Use Plastics include cups, plastic bags, plates, small bottles, straws and certain types of sachets, as per the officials, who asked not to be identified, in line with government policy.
“The ban will be comprehensive and will cover manufacturing, usage, and import of such items,” an official said.
On 15th August, while delivering Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Modi had encouraged people as well as government agencies to “take the first big step” on 2nd October to make the country free of single-use plastic.
Under the theme “Shramdaan,” a detailed plan has been worked out for ministries and departments for this movement, forming a part of an ambitious drive against Single-Use Plastic (SUP).
The proposals include: Total ban on SUPs; all urban local bodies, 4,378 in number to collect and segregate recyclable plastic from non-recyclable plastic waste; along National Highways plastic waste to be utilized for road construction; using plastic as fuel by cement manufactures; Textile Ministry to increase the jute bags production; all gram sabhas to be free from plastic waste by 2022.
As part of this initiative, 5 lakh sarpanch and swachhagrahis or cleanliness volunteers will receive personalized letters from the Prime Minister.
Moreover, other ministries, including Housing and Urban Affairs, Railways and Tourism, have been asked to conduct “massive shramdaan activities” on 2nd October in railway stations, tourist spots, historical sites and beaches.
Union ministers have been suggested to “offer shramdaan with ministry staff during the campaign period.” The ministries have also been asked to “mobilise celebrities” for cleanliness drives.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has been asked to ensure and enforce the ban on SUPs by all states and Union Territories. “Ban entry of SUP in Indian Himalayan region and other eco-fragile zones…,” states the presentation.
Incentives are also included in the plan. For instance, an international competition on innovations on plastic waste recycling is expected to be organized by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. Rail Ministry will award the best plastic-free station, and the Tourism Ministry will announce a competition among tourist spots for removal of plastic waste.
The ban on this first six single-use plastic items is expected to shave 5 to 10 percent of about 14 million tonnes India’s annual plastic consumption, the official said.
According to him, after an initial six-month period, penalties for violations of the ban will probably take effect after allowing some time to people to adopt alternatives. The polythene bags have already been outlawed in some states, as per Reuters.
There will be stricter environmental standards as planned by the Government for plastic products, and that will persist on the use of recyclable plastic only, the official said.
The plastic packaging makes up nearly 40 percent of the country’s annual plastic consumption. Therefore e-commerce companies will also be asked to reduce plastic packaging, the officials said.
These day’s cheap smartphones and a surge in the number of internet users have boosted orders for e-commerce companies, such as Amazon.com Inc and Walmart Inc’s, and Flipkart. These companies pack their products, including books, medicines, cigarettes, and cosmetics in plastic which is pushing up the consumption.
European Union has already announced plans earlier this year the to ban single-use plastic items such as straws, forks, knives and cotton buds by 2021.
In Asia, Shanghai, which is China’s commercial hub, is gradually restraining the use of single-use plastics in catering, and Hainan, its island province has already vowed to eliminate single-use plastic by 2025.