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DEALING WITH SINGLE-USE PLASTIC

The Editorial covers GS paper 2 [Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.]

Jatin verma ias | 9582459581 |

Context

  • Single use plastic is a major cause of concern for the world today. 

  • India has taken several initiatives to tackle the problem caused by single use plastic and management of plastic waste.

 

Why is a ban needed?

  • India generated 26,000 tonnes per day (TPD) of plastic waste in 2017-18, the latest year for which data is available, according to the Central Pollution Control Board.

  • The rest ended up as litter on roads, in landfills or in streams. Uncollected plastic waste poses a huge threat to species on land and in water.

  • Unlike scrap metal that’s recycled almost entirely, about 90% of the plastic the world has produced so far has been discarded as waste. This is resulting in global environmental and social damage of more than $2.2 trillion every year.

  • Production of plastic material is very energy intensive. They require a lot of water for their production. Thus using plastic bags is not advisable.

  • Being non-recyclable, plastic bags end up in the oceans. While they reach, they break up into tiny little pieces and are consumed by wildlife.

  • Toxic chemicals from plastic bags can damage the blood and tissues.

What is the way forward?

  • With no plastic ban in effect, raising awareness, promoting eco-friendly alternatives and strengthening the recycling mechanism can allow India to handle the plastic problem.

  • While it is clear that a ban is not entirely a solution, the government must move quickly on measures to phase out and finally impose a plastic ban on problematic SUP items.

  • It is clear that we cannot lose the momentum. Thus a phased ban on single-use plastic would help.

  • Government should educate the public and trade bodies to achieve the benefits of the ban.

  • Since long term benefits of plastic bag ban use will benefit the economy and also save taxpayer money can lead to plastic bag cleanup.

 

Conclusion

 

Though restrictions on marriages, political rallies and other events have brought down demand for plastic cups and other disposables, producers say that plastic has played a vital role during the pandemic.

Ironically, single use plastic has been used as part of relief efforts in all major cities, towns and villages to distribute essentials during the pandemic but is also contributing to a bigger problem of piling up disposables that often leads to clogged drains and polluting water bodies.