Banning of Single-Use Plastic


    In News 

    Recently, the Centre notified ban on the use of ‘single-use plastic items from July by 2022

    Key Points of notification 

    • Prohibited commodities: The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of the following single-use plastic, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities shall be prohibited with effect from the 1st July 2022 and other commodities include: 
      • Earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene [Thermocol] for decoration; plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packaging films around sweet boxes, invitation cards,  and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers.
        • The ban will not apply to commodities made of compostable plastic.
    • Increase in thickness of plastic carry bags: Polythene bags with thickness less than 50 microns are already banned in the country and now the government has chalked out a phased manner of banning-single use carry bags as well as other commodities. 
      • From September 30 this year, polythene bags under 75 microns will not be allowed. From December 31 2022, polythene bags under 120 microns will be banned.
      • This will also allow the reuse of plastic carry due to an increase in thickness.
    • Plastic packaging waste: The plastic packaging waste, which is not covered under the phase-out of identified single-use plastic items, shall be collected and managed in an environmentally sustainable way through the Extended Producer Responsibility of the Producer, importer and Brand owner (PIBO), as per Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. 
      • For effective implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility, the Guidelines for Extended Producer Responsibility being brought out have been given legal force through Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.

    Objectives and need 

    • Pollution due to single-use plastic items has become an important environmental challenge confronting all countries therefore India is committed to taking action for the mitigation of pollution caused by littered Single-Use Plastics.

    Single-Use Plastics

    • Single-use plastics are disposable plastics meant for use-and-throw. These comprise polythene bags, plastic drinking bottles, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers, plastic sachets, plastic wrappers, straws, stirrers and Styrofoam cups or plates.
    • Single-use plastics have been defined under the rules as “a plastic commodity intended to be used once for the same purpose before being disposed of or recycled”.

    Issues and Challenges 

    • Environment
      • It is harmful to the environment as it is non-biodegradable and takes years to disintegrate.
      • Marine wildlife such as seabirds, whales, fishes and turtles eat plastic waste and most die of starvation as their stomachs are filled with plastic debris
    • Food and health
      • Invisible plastic has been identified in tap water, beer, salt and are present in all samples collected in the world’s oceans, including the Arctic.
      • The transfer of contaminants between marine species and humans through the consumption of seafood has been identified as a health hazard.
        • Fish consume thousands of tons of plastic in a year, ultimately transferring it up the food chain to marine mammals.
    • Climate change
      • Plastic, which is a petroleum product, also contributes to global warming. If plastic waste is incinerated, it releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thereby increasing carbon emissions.
    • Tourism
      • Plastic waste damages the aesthetic value of tourist destinations, leading to decreased tourism-related incomes and major economic costs related to the cleaning and maintenance of the sites.
    • Financial costs of marine plastic pollution: According to conservative forecasts made in March 2020, the direct harm to the blue economy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will be $2.1 billion per year.

    India’s Efforts In Tackling Plastic Waste

    • Adoption of this resolution at UNEA 4: In the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly held in 2019, India had piloted a resolution on addressing single-use plastic products pollution, recognizing the urgent need for the global community to focus on this very important issue. The adoption of this resolution at UNEA 4 was a significant step.
    • Strengthening of waste management infrastructure: The waste management infrastructure in the States/UTs is being strengthened through the Swachh Bharat Mission. 
    • Awareness Campaign: The Government has also been taking measures for awareness generation towards the elimination of single-use plastics.
      • A two-month-long Awareness Campaign of Single-Use Plastic 2021 has been organized. 
      • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has also organized a pan India essay writing competition on the theme of spreading awareness amongst school students in the country.
    • The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016: It clearly stipulates that urban local bodies (ULBs) should ban less than 50 micron thick plastic bags and not allow usage of recycled plastics for packing food, beverage or any other eatables.
      • Recently, the Ministry has issued a draft notification for amending the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, with respect to prohibiting identified 12 single-use plastic items such as disposable plastic cutlery etc.
      • The draft Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2021 is proposed to be implemented in three stages starting this year and culminating in mid-2022.
        • The rules propose that each sheet of non-woven plastic carry bag shall not be less than 60 (GSM per square metre) or 240 microns in thickness. 
        • A carry bag made of virgin or recycled plastic shall not be less than 120 microns, with effect from the same date.
        • The Rules also require that local bodies should provide separate collection, storage and processing of plastic waste in their areas.
        • The government has set an ambitious target of eliminating single-use plastics by 2022.
    • Steps to strengthen  implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016
      • The States/UTs have been requested to constitute a Special Task Force for the elimination of single-use plastics and effective implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
      •  A National Level Taskforce has also been constituted for taking coordinated efforts to eliminate identified single-use plastic items and effective implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
    • India is a signatory to MARPOL (International Convention on Prevention of Marine Pollution).
    • The “India Plastic Challenge – Hackathon 2021 
      • It is a unique competition calling upon start-ups /entrepreneurs and students of   Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to develop innovative solutions to mitigate plastic pollution and develop alternatives to single-use plastics.


    • Recycling and reuse of plastic materials are the most effective actions available to reduce the environmental impacts of open landfills and open-air burning that are often practised to manage domestic waste.
    • Sufficient litter and recycling bins can be placed in cities, and on beaches in coastal areas to accelerate the prevention and reduction of plastic pollution.
    • Governments, research institutions and industries also need to work collaboratively redesigning products, and rethink their usage and disposal, in order to reduce microplastics waste from pellets, synthetic textiles and tyres.
    • Existing international legally binding instruments should be further explored to address plastic pollution.
    • Reiterating the government’s commitment to phase out identified single-use plastic items that have low utility and high adverse environmental impact, 
    • There is a need for a National Action Plan or guidelines that should focus on implementing the plastic ban in a phase-wise manner in terms of urgency. 
    • Designing a product: Identifying plastic items that can be replaced with non-plastic, recyclable, or biodegradable materials is the first step. 
      • Find alternatives to single-use plastics and reusable design goods by working with product designers. Countries must embrace circular and sustainable economic practices throughout the plastics value chain to accomplish this.
    • Technologies and Innovation: Developing tools and technology to assist governments and organisations in measuring and monitoring plastic garbage in cities. 
    • Multi-stakeholder collaboration: Government ministries at the national and local levels must collaborate in the development, implementation and oversight of policies, which includes participation from industrial firms, non-governmental organisations and volunteer organisations. 

    International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)

    • It is the main international convention covering the prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.
    • It was adopted on 2 November 1973 at IMO.
    • The Convention includes regulations aimed at preventing and minimizing pollution from ships – both accidental pollution and that from routine operations.
    • All ships flagged under countries that are signatories to MARPOL are subject to its requirements, regardless of where they sail and member nations are responsible for vessels registered on their national ship registry.


    Source: IE