CAG Report on Plastic Waste Management

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    In News

    • Recently, the CAG, in an audit report, has said that plastic waste management rules could not be implemented effectively.

    Report highlights

    • No action plan with ministry:
      • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has no action plan for the implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016, as a result, plastic waste management rules could not be implemented effectively and efficiently, stated the report.
    • Lack/ineffectiveness of data:
      • There were data gaps due to which the CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) as well as the MoEF&CC did not have a complete and comprehensive picture of plastic waste generation in the entire country during the period 2015-20.
      • The CAG report also said that all three sampled ULBs (urban local bodies) of Delhi did not furnish the data of plastic waste generated to the DPCC every year during 2015-20.
      • Loss of expenditure:
        • The report also stated that the ineffective monitoring by MoEF&CC and delay in release of financial assistance resulted in non-achievement of environmental benefits from the demonstration project and unfruitful expenditure of Rs 73.35 lakh.

    Recommendations

    • Effective data collection:
      • The CAG has recommended that the Ministry needs to put a system in place for effective data collection in relation to generation, collection and disposal of plastic waste, through its agencies (CPCB, SPCBs/PCCs) and monitor their performance.
    • Assessment of plastic waste being generation:
      • It also said that the CPCB and state PCBs/PCCs in coordination with local bodies need to carry out, periodically, a comprehensive assessment of the quantity of plastic waste being generated and collected data according to parameters like 
        • population size,
          geographical size of the area, 
        • economic growth, i
        • increased demand for consumer goods and 
        • change in manufacturing methods etc.
    • Notification of rules:
      • It recommended that local bodies may expedite the process of notifying their bye-laws by incorporating plastic waste management rules.

    Hazards of Plastic waste

    • Environmental pollution & Climate change:
      • Millions of tonnes of plastic waste are lost to the environment or sometimes shipped thousands of kilometers to destinations where it is mostly burned or dumped. 
      • Plastic, which is a petroleum product, also contributes to global warming
        • If incinerated, its toxic compounds are spewed into the atmosphere to be accumulated in biotic forms throughout the surrounding ecosystems.
        • If incinerated, it also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thereby increasing carbon emissions.
    • Soil, water & ocean pollution:
      • When buried in a landfill, plastic lies untreated for years. 
      • In the process, toxic chemicals from plastics drain and seep into groundwater, flowing downstream into lakes and rivers. 
      • The seeping of plastic also causes soil pollution due to the presence of microplastics in the soil.
      • Rivers and lakes also carry plastic waste from deep inland to the sea, making them major contributors to ocean pollution.
    • 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.

    The Plastic Waste Management Rules

    • 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 the usage of recycled plastics for packing food, beverage or any other eatables.
      • It introduced the concept of EPR(Extended Producer Responsibility) to manage plastics in India.
        • EPR means the responsibility of a producer for environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life.
    • Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022: 
      • The guidelines on EPR(Extended Producer Responsibility) coupled with the prohibition of identified single-use plastic items.
      • It banned the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than seventy-five microns
      • The items that will be banned are—Earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration, plastic plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons and knives, straw, trays, wrapping films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100-microns and stirrers.
        • The ban will not apply to commodities made of compostable plastic.
      • The Central Pollution Control Board, along with state pollution bodies, will monitor the ban, identify violations, and impose penalties already prescribed under the Environmental Protection Act.

    Plastics Pact

    • It is a network of initiatives that bring together all key stakeholders at the national or regional level to implement solutions for plastic eradication.
    • First Plastics Pact was launched in the U.K. in 2018.
    • Objectives: 
      • To eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging through innovation
      • To increase the reuse, collection, and recycling of plastic packaging
    • India Plastics Pact:
      • A joint initiative between the World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF India) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
      • Aim & Objectives: Commitments for building a circular system for plastics by 2030:
        • Complement India’s other bold initiatives in the renewables sector and efforts to limit single-use plastics.
        • 100 percent of plastic packaging to be reusable or recyclable.

    Way Ahead

    • The MoEF&CC stated to have adopted a three-pronged strategy for effective implementation of the rules, which includes following: 
      • Behavioural change; 
      • Strengthening of the institutional system for the collection, segregation and recycling of plastic waste; and 
      • Engagement with producers, importers and brand owners through Extended Producer’s Responsibility.
    • It is vital for the government, and for the rest of the industry, to stay the course, cut the amount of plastic it uses and rapidly transition to a circular economy. 

    Source: DTE