According to the latest estimates, India is generating 3.5 million tonnes of plastic waste annually and the per capita plastic waste generation has doubled over the last five years. India is the world’s second most populated country.

In India, plastic waste can be found stacked along roadsides, floating in waterways, and choking drainage systems. Of course, this is bad news. But we’re here to share a piece of uplifting news about India.

Yes, as we said in the title, India on Friday, July 1st implemented a ban on single-use plastic items ranging from straws to ice cream sticks and cigarette packets to tackle the plastic pollution problem. In August last year, The Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change announced the ban and they released a report about the list of items that will be banned from July 1st.

plastic-ban-india
plastic waste

“The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of following single-use plastic, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities shall be prohibited with effect from the 1st July 2022,’’ says the Ministry notification.

So what is single-use plastic? The term ‘Single-use plastics’ refers to a range of plastic items that are discarded after a single-use. Single-use plastic has among the highest shares of plastic manufactured and used — from the packaging of items to bottles (shampoo, detergents, cosmetics), polythene bags, face masks, coffee cups, cling film, trash bags, food packaging, etc.

So what are the items being banned? According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the center has implemented the ban on earbuds, balloon sticks, candy and ice-cream sticks, cutlery items including plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, trays, sweet boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packs, PVC banners measuring under 100 microns, and polystyrene for decoration.

 

READ: Scientists developed a new plastic material directly from waste biomass

 

India was found to be the worst country for plastic waste in the oceans in 2020. So implementing this ban on single-use plastics will help the world tackle the plastic pollution problem.

“The enemy is not that plastic exists per se, but that plastic exists in the environment. When plastic remains in the environment for long periods of time and does not decay, it turns into microplastics – first entering our food sources and then the human body, and this is extremely harmful,” said a Ministry official.

“We have chosen these items as they are difficult to collect, especially since most are either small or discarded directly into the environment – like ice-cream sticks. It then becomes difficult to collect for recycling, unlike the much larger items,” the Ministry official added.

Satish Sinha of the environmental group Toxic Links described the items chosen as “low-hanging fruit”.

“Of the single-use plastic industry – the production and sale of these items are minuscule. The largest share of single-use plastic is that of packaging – with as much as 95% of single-use plastics belonging to this category – from toothpaste to shaving cream to frozen foods. The items chosen are of low value and of low turnover and are unlikely to have a big economic impact, which could be a contributing reason. Having said that, we do need to start with something, and it is a beginning,” said Satish Sinha.

As we said, India is the world’s second-most populous country. So implementing this ban will definitely help the whole world combat plastic pollution and the climate-changing problem.